Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Self awareness - questioning (why, why, why, why, why)

Over the last few weeks we've looked at Myers-Brigs and different personality types.
Hopefully this has given you an understanding of which type you best fit and some tips for the future.
It's worth remembering that these are broad categories and the degree to which you fit a particular type can vary.
For example quite often when I've taken the test I've come out as an ENFP - yet other times it's come back as INFP.

Taking the test is a snap shot and how you answer the questions can be influenced by what's going on in your life, so they're just a guide to really get you thinking about the person you are.

So why is all this stuff important?

Tests like Myers Briggs are a good place to start in building self awareness.

Knowing who you are and where you are in life is a powerful foundation to delivering change.

The analogy I always use is building a bridge across a river.
Knowing yourself and where you are is the one bank of the river
Knowing where you want to get to is the other bank
…and the bridge are the steps in life you need to take to realise the change.
“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” - James Thurber
Another technique for building deeper self awareness is questioning…sounds simple?
Often when we answer questions about ourselves we give the answer we're most comfortable with, or the one that we think society will approve of.

Although that initial answer may well be truthful it comes from the layer of ourselves that we present to the world.

To really understand ourselves we need to dig deeper into those layers to find the root of the answer.

An example:-

What type of people do you enjoy spending time with?
Well...they have to be open-minded people. I really enjoy their company.
Why do I enjoy being with open-minded people?
Because then I can explore lots of different ideas. I enjoy searching for answers. And if they’re open-minded, the exploration can go anywhere!
What do I mean by “exploration can go anywhere”?
I mean I can investigate all the big questions in life like...Why are we here or where do emotions come from?
How does being with open-minded people assist me in exploring those questions?
Well...if they’re open-minded they won’t make fun of my ideas.
Why is it important to me that people not make fun of my ideas?
Because it feels like my ideas I don’t like being made fun of.
Why don’t I like being made fun of?
Because then I feel shitty about myself.
Why would I feel shitty about myself if people made fun of me?
Because they’re not accepting me for who I am!
Why do I feel shitty if others don’t accept me for who I am?
Because it means I’m not OK.
How does others not accepting me mean I’m not okay?
Hmmmm.... I guess it doesn't have to mean that.

From a simple question with a honest open answer we have delved into the deeper meaning and touch on the persons values.

We'll cover behavioural layers and eliciting values in later posts but for now lets look at self questioning techniques, and for now lets focus on questions around who you are and where you are in your life.

This same technique is also often used in Service Improvement or Root Cause analysis to uncover the underlying reason for problems and is often called "the 5 whys".

Some examples are:-
  • What do I fear most in my life right now? Why? What would it mean if that happened?
  • When do I feel the most angry or frustrated? What is it about those situations that I feel that way?
  • What is my definition of love? (not Webster’s)
  • What does money mean/represent to me?
  • Do I feel peaceful or anxiety in regards to money?
  • How do I currently earn my livelihood? How did I come to be so employed?
  • What skills have I acquired that I'm proud of?
  • What accomplishments am I proud of?
  • Beginning when I was a child, what are the 10 most significant events in my life? Why did I make them significant?
  • What period of my life do I like most? Why?
  • What period of my life do I like least? Why?
  • What are five of my greatest strengths?
Each of these are suggested starting questions and it's often worth doing this exercise with a blank pad of paper.
Write down the question and your answer
Then read your answer back and ask why?
Answer that question
Read it back and again ask yourself why?
Repeat this until you get down to a point where there is no longer a why.

Some tips:-

Be as specific as you can - when answering your questions there are three things to keep in mind...
Be specific, be specific, be specific!
Got that? Good - the reason is that a woolly general answer doesn't help you understand your motivations, behaviours and values. The more specific you are in your answers the more of an insight you'll get.

Be honest with yourself - we can all fall into the self-delusion trap but when you're answering your questions try to bring a bit of critical honesty to your answers. Sometimes it takes a bit of courage to be honest with yourself but the more honest you are the more you will get out....and hell there's no one else around.

Go with the flow - let your line of questioning take you where ever it takes's ok to take wild guesses and go with your gut instinct.


  1. Hellooooooooooooooooooooooo :)!

    thanks so much for your lovely comment :)!

    Wish you a great time :)

    with love

  2. wow this post has really helped me understand myself

  3. nice this post has a lot of useful questions. thanks.

  4. The only thing you can be 100% certain of is your own self :O

  5. Interesting you note the other factors they don't include in these types of tests. They'd be hard to incorporate though :/

  6. asking why is always important...take the blue pill or the red pill?

  7. Important post


    I went here today

  8. I actually liked those questions you asked yourself there. I might have to raise this with someone :)

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. i wouldn't put too much faith in this myers-briggs thing but the advice you're giving is pretty sound as far as i can tell

  11. Love these posts. Very insightful.

  12. nice questions and good answers ,nice post

  13. i took the Myers Briggs in a college course a few months ago, I'll need to dig it out

  14. Good food for thought, though I think MB tests are awfully limited. Have you ever heard of the Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument?

    (also, follow'd :)

  15. Always with high quality posts, keep it up man!

  16. Nice! I learned some kids at elementary to ask themselves "why" five times to find their basic motivation. It works.

  17. I really like some of these question. Really useful post!

  18. interesting post actually.

    A:Whatz the european date format?
    A:Y are u asking me so many questions?
    -Dont be mad at me, i saw ur title and some questions and thought of a dumb joke to turn the mood.

  19. iiiinteresting. understanding oneself is diffcult.

  20. I try to keep myself in a perpetual state of sleep-deprived delirium, so my self-awareness is on autopilot.

  21. Godammit i'm so scared of being honest and discoverying myself.

    so what kinda person does that make me?

  22. people are more often than not misread anyway, so hm. there's only so far you can go to understand yourself, though.

  23. I found this post really helpful and interesting...keep up the good content!!!!


  24. Good post!!!

  25. good dialogue for the person with himself

  26. Hello lovely :)!

    thanks so much for your comment :)!

    Wish you a great weekend :)

    with love

  27. This is dare I say it deep and made me think about myself.

  28. Deep and meaningful, very informative, thanks dude!

  29. I like this, it makes me self-reflect. Interesting stuff man, I look forward to your other work.

  30. What a deep blog post. I feel as though I've learnt something today

  31. i never thought of that, asking why to myself.thank u:)

  32. hehe its a great post really!
    well done

    thanks for commenting
    i have a new outfit of today post !

    LOVE model from holland
    everyday a new post

  33. I am MUCH too self aware! Thanks for the guide, hopefully I'll stop overlooking things too much!