The Suicide Questions
I have clients and friends who have attempted or considered suicide.
Here is what I’ve learned from them.
There is a common set of questions that they ask themselves and put great effort into trying to answer. Somewhere along the line I started calling these the “suicide questions”.
Here’s the first and worst: “What’s wrong with me?”
They ask themselves this question over and over. They ask other people too. They come up with lists of things that could be wrong with them. They study them asking, “Is this it? Is this what’s wrong with me?”
“Am I a bad person? Do I have ADHD? Am I paranoid? Am I stupid? Am I just bad at all this? Maybe I’m bi-polar? Maybe I have an anxiety disorder? Is that hereditary? I need to look that up? Maybe I’m antisocial? Maybe I’m narcissistic? Maybe I’m histrionic?”
This is bad. This is bad because what you focus on expands. Focusing on what is wrong with you – expands what is wrong with you!
Worse it expands what could be wrong with you – inside your own brain! In the form of brain muscle (neural networks)! In order to remember this negative stuff they have to physically store it in their heads. The are dedicating acres of brain tissue to what could be wrong with them! Thinking about ick makes you icky.
You Have a RAS
Feeding this mechanism is a specific part of your brain, located near the stem, called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS’s job is to filter input based on what you think about. For example, have you ever purchased a car of a specific make, model, or color that seemed unique to you? Yet, after that purchase, you started noticing them everywhere? This is your RAS in a nutshell. As you dedicate more time to a particular thought process, you will find use it to filter what you perceive. So if you think you are bad at math, for example, you will find memories and evidence to reinforce this belief. This is why it is so important to focus on positive thoughts; you are the sum of your thoughts.
Thoughts take up physical space in your head! If you spend 80% of your time dwelling on the negative then you have 80% negative thinking muscle in your head. Negative thinking produces fear and anxiety. These folks are always anxious, fearful and panicky.
They ask themselves these questions, dwell upon all the depressing answers, store it in their heads and go over it until they convinced more than ever that something is wrong with their life. Yes, they are growing (as in gardening) unhappiness in their heads. Rerunning thoughts makes them physically stronger.
Here are the three questions I seem to hear the most. They are generally silly questions that gain great power when dwelled upon and/or when the fearful answers are believed.
- What’s wrong with me?
- Why am I this way?
- Why am I alone?
All of the questions can be used to damage yourself, someone else or a relationship.
Examples using question 1:
- What’s wrong with me?
- What’s wrong with you?
- What’s wrong with us?
There are much better questions to ask yourself. Questions that lead to better thinking and happiness. The first one I learned was from the founder of ActionCOACH. Brad Sugars had his kids answer this question at dinner each night: “Tell us 3 good things about yourself and one fun thing from your day? The great question is: “What are 3 good things about you?”
A Great Question
I was on a call with another coach recently (we coaches get a great deal of coaching!) and we learned a great question to consider. Kurek Ashley taught us this great tool. In any situation you can ask yourself: “What’s great about this?”
I just cut off my finger. What’s great about this?
What’s great is that this if the first time in three hundred thousand years of human history where I have a good chance of having it sewed back on and become usable again. That’s what’s great about this.
Covid Pandemic. What’s great about this?
We’ve tried to get everyone to stop driving for one day for 20 years. Now we’ve had a great benefit to the climate as a result that was impossible to consider.
We have all of humanity facing a common adversary in real-time. We are all consciously on the same side of the table for the first time.
More scientist are working together than ever and accelerating medicine on all fronts.
When you ask the right question the list goes on.
Choose the questions to ask yourself with love. The “suicide questions” grow negativity in your life and make it flesh in your head.
This is how you lead yourself! Put yourself to work on answering great questions! Where are your questions leading you?
We are in pursuit of the kind of thinking that leads to a great life.