If you’re feeling chronically bad in some area of your life, chances are you are doing something to cause the stress in a way you’ve yet to understand.
That’s right – you.
Even if your husband/wife/boss/enemy does have something to do with it, obsessing on that person isn’t going to help you. So, stop that.
You see, there is a subconscious framework in your mind that determines how you see the world and how you react to it. And the way you see the world and react to it is everything.
In NLP, there is an interesting term to identify one of the major pieces that make up this subconscious framework. It’s known as a virtual question.
What is a virtual question?
A virtual question is a simple, subconscious question that we are constantly asking.
For example, if you suffer with feelings of insecurity, you might have the virtual question “Am I good enough?”
With such a question operating in the back of your mind, you would constantly compare yourself to others, raising the issue of your personal worth, over and over. This creates ongoing self-doubt.
You might also be watching others to see how they react, on the lookout for any signs of negative judgment.
“Am I good enough?” is not a great virtual question because it does not encourage any positive change or action. In fact, it encourages inaction.
A much better virtual question…
A much better virtual question would be: What do I need to do to feel proud of myself?
This is a great question to ask because it encourages you to take responsibility and points the way to action. The fact is, there is nothing we can do to change others, and comparing ourselves to others, wondering if we measure up, will never result in reliable self-esteem.
So, we must take responsibility for our own lives, and as the famous prayer goes, “have the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
What makes a great virtual question?
Great virtual questions are focused on things that lie within the asker’s realm of power. They are generally focused on the present, and are often positive.
Good virtual questions must also be honest. This means they must not deny the reality of negative situations. To use an extreme example, if you are terminally ill, you must acknowledge this truth. But you should also focus on whatever it is you can do about it, and nothing more.
You may not be able to change the fact that you will likely die soon, but you do have the ability to choose how you will live out the remainder of your days. A good virtual question to ask in such a situation would be: How can I make the most of my time? This is extremely powerful. As a matter of fact, it could be just as powerful regardless of your health status!
(Yes, all of our lives are indeed terminal – what ARE you doing with the time you have left?)
So, if you find yourself feeling overly worried or stressed, take a few quiet moments to slow down and think. Ask yourself if you are focusing on something you have no ability to change— if you are looking outside yourself for solutions to your problems.
Figure out what your virtual question might be – it will make total sense when you discover it. Then, ask yourself whether or not this particular question is helpful and appropriate at this point in life. If it isn’t, you can change that question!
Mike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist, Master NLP trainer, and practicing life coach. He and his wife, Hope, founded iNLP Center in 2011. For information on coaching with Mike, please visit his coaching website AHA System.