New research indicates that our success in life could be related to the questions we ask. In a recent study led by University of Illinois Professor Dolores Albarracin, participants were asked to spend a minute contemplating whether they would finish a task or telling themselves definitively that they would.
Those who thought about whether they would get the job done, did better than those who simply believed they would do it.
In another experiment, participants either wrote "I Will" or "Will I," and then set to work on a task. Those who wrote the phrase "Will I" did better.
The unconscious formation of the question "Will I" and affects motivation, researchers surmised. By asking the question, people were more likely to build their own motivation to take on the task at hand, Albarracin says.
Other experiments showed that simply asking the question "Will I" boosted "intrinsic motivation," according to the study, which appears in the journal Psychological Science.
"It seems, however, that when it comes to performing a specific behavior, asking questions is a more promising way of achieving your objectives," says Albarracin in the report.
And this research again points out how powerful the words we use are - even when they are just rattling around in our heads. Our inner voice can motivate, empower, encourage, inspire. Or it can tear down, weaken, and hurt us.
So, why do we so often go with the voices that sound like a nagging mother-in-law: "you're wearing that?" as opposed to the one that sounds like a cookie-baking grandmother, "honey, that color brings out your eyes."
Thing is, we get a choice. The key is to become aware of how we talk to ourselves and become conscious of the words we use. Then, pick the ones that work best.
When I was beginning as a writer I remember thinking that it "was a battle" to get anything published. A mentor of mine told me that the words I was using would create adversarial, antagonistic feelings that would keep me from the positive relationships I needed to publish. I changed my interior vocabulary to include words like process and opportunity and noticed that the shift reduced my stress, and helped me feel more positive and capable. I became open to any opportunity, rather than defensive and scared.
Next time you hear your own voices chirping in your head, notice what they're saying. You don't have to believe them. You don't have to repeat them. You don't have to become what the bad ones say you already are. Just be aware and the, escort them out that mental door. Then replace the "I'll try" with "I'm doing it." Substitute the "I can't" with "Will I?" and be open to what happens next.
** Portions of this blog originally appeared at Imperfect Spirituality.