Why We Should Never Stop Questioning

Written by on January 9, 2017 in Self-Awareness

Never Stop Questioning


Life is full of questions, and we have all experienced times when satisfactory answers are hard to come by. But what I’d like you to consider is that the willingness to question, the very process, can be as valuable to your growth as any answers you may uncover.

Questioning: Your Short-Cut to Enhanced Self-Awareness

I often talk about using questions to help with year-end reviews, goal setting and general personal growth, but the process of questioning is also a powerful way to increase self-awareness and solve some of your most challenging problems.

Following are a few deceptively simple questions to consider.

  • Right now, at this moment, what do you want most?
  • What is one thing that you are totally sure of?
  • What (or who) are you tolerating that is draining your energy?
  • What is something no one can take away from you?
  • What are you pretending not to know?

This last question is my personal favorite, but it is also the one most likely to create discomfort if we’re completely honest with ourselves.

For example, when you ask for the opinion of others about how to solve a problem is it because you genuinely don’t know what to do, or because you know and just don’t want to do it? Maybe you’re hoping that someone will come up with a solution that is quicker and less painful, or maybe you’re just stalling.

Now there are two ways you might go about answering these questions. The first would be to quickly fire off the first thing that comes to mind.

The second would be to actually take some time to write down the questions and your answers, then take it a step further and question your answers. Are they part of the convenient story that you tell to yourself and others about who you are, or do they reflect your true self?

I’ll let you decide which approach will be the most beneficial.

In the meantime, I’d like to share with you a carefully chosen selection of insightful quotations on the value of questioning.

Reflections on the Power of Questioning

Fear is a question. What are you afraid of and why? Our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we are willing to explore the questions. ~Marilyn French

The greatest gift is not being afraid to question. ~Ruby Dee

It’s healthy now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted. ~Bertrand Russell

Life is an unanswered question but let’s still believe in the dignity and importance of asking the question. ~Tennessee Williams

Never Stop Questioning

I’m always asking questions – not to find ‘answers,’ but to see where the questions will lead. Dead ends sometimes? That’s fine. New directions? Interesting. Great insights? Over-ambitious. A glimpse here and there? Perfect. ~Lesley Hazelton

Not all answers will be given to you now because you would not be able to live them. The point is to live everything. Go ahead and live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. ~Rainer Maria Rilke

For true success ask yourself these 4 questions: Why? Why not? Why not me? Why not now? ~Jimmy Dean

The best leaders have the right questions, not the right answers. ~Liz Wiseman

The key question to keep asking is, are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have. ~Randy Pausch

Just keep asking questions. Does this work allow me to be myself? Does it make me smarter? Does it open doors? Does it represent a compromise I accept? Does it touch my inner being? ~Suzy Welch

You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: is that okay? ~Jim Rohn

Begin questioning your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t be able to come in. ~Alan Alda

People make assumptions and don’t take the time to ask questions. We don’t like to admit we don’t understand, so we pretend that we do. The problem is our assumptions are often wrong. ~Ben Hines

Never Stop Questioning

There’s no shame in admitting what you don’t know. The only shame is pretending you know all the answers. ~Neil deGrasse Tyson

The quality of your life is a direct reflection of the quality of the questions you are asking yourself. ~Anthony Robbins

If life keeps asking you the same questions, you are not learning the lessons. ~Leif Ericsson

If you’re questioning everything about your life, celebrate it. It’s simply a sign that you’re alive and that you’re fueled by a desire to live extraordinarily. ~Kate Northrup

And of course possibly the most famous questioning quotation of all …

The important thing is to never stop questioning. ~Albert Einstein

Closing thoughts …

As valuable as the process can be, it’s important to acknowledge that getting the best results has a lot to do with how you ask the questions.

Questions that begin with phrases such as why am I, why should I or why is it always tend to be about feeling sorry for ourselves, “Why is it always me?” or “Why should I even try?” and often lead to excuses, pointing blame and playing the role of victim. Whereas how or what questions are strengthening questions that help to expand our thinking and character. For example, “How can I do this better next time?” or  “What can I do to achieve this goal despite the odds?”

Developing the habit of asking thoughtful and solution based questions on a daily basis can enrich your life in so many unexpected and enriching ways.

Thank you very much for reading and sharing.

Your time and attention is something I never take for granted. I especially appreciate you contributing to the discussion here. You may not think your words matter that much, but thousands of people come here for insight and inspiration and I receive notes all the time from readers letting me know how much they gain from thoughtful comments that contribute to the conversation.

As always, the discussion will continue in this week’s edition of Resilient Living. If you like what you read here, why not consider joining us?

Let today be the day you give up who you’ve been for who you can become.
About Marquita Herald

Marquita Herald

Marquita is an author, resilience coach and the chief evangelist at Emotionally Resilient Living. She’s also an unapologetic workaholic who loves red wine, rock n’ roll, road trips (and car dancing!), peanut butter cookies and (especially) a dog named Lucy.

She’s saddened and frustrated by excuses and cruelty and believes authentic compassion is the most powerful force in the world.

To learn more about Marquita and the mission of Emotionally Resilient Living  click here.

Thank you for sharing!

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  1. Thanks for taking the time to let me know that you found value in the post DeeDee. Your comment about how you value living in a country that encourages free speech is timely. With all of the turmoil in our country at the moment, it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong, but it occurred to me the other day that the very things that are making us crazy are the very things that make this country great. We have the freedom to speak out, make mistakes, and stand up for beliefs and I for one am immensely grateful for that. Thanks again for stopping by!

  2. DeeDee Lynn

    Hi Marquita. I’m so glad to live in this country where we can question things. My brain is always full of questions – sometimes it wish it would shut up. Then I realize I’d rather be someone who asks questions than someone who doesn’t. Great post.
    DeeDee Lynn recently posted…Financial Wellness Month: Riding Out the RecessionMy Profile

  3. Wow, what an eye-opener that must have been Joyce! We’re destined to repeat lessons we fail to learn so I’m all for diving into the search for why we do the things we do. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  4. Ah, been there. It’s tough enough to deal with this type of situation when the person is a friend or relative, but when it’s a co-worker things can get prickly pretty quickly. I actually shared a small office with someone like that several years ago. I’m not saying this is the way to go for everyone else, but I finally closed and locked the door one day and forced us to work out our differences. I’ve never done anything like that before or since, but I loved my job and was determined not to let the fact I had to share an office with her ruin it for me. Surprisingly, she was very receptive! We both compromised a little and ended up in a pretty comfortable place all things considered. I’ll be watching for future articles on this topic from you Kimba. 🙂

  5. Joyce Hansen

    It’s funny how many of us question someone else about their intent or motives, yet we avoid casting scrutiny on ourselves. In a recent post, I included a part about procrastination. One commenter felt it was more important to intently focus on the goal and not dwell on trying to understand why one procrastinates. What a missed opportunity to develop self-awarenesses by asking the questions.
    Joyce Hansen recently posted…Three Easy Steps to Beat Your Fear of SuccessMy Profile

  6. Kimba

    This question: “What (or who) are you tolerating that is draining your energy?” Working through this right now with a colleague who operates from a very negative place. Managing her is gonna be a challenge this coming year.
    Kimba recently posted…Hon, Do We Have Any Mustard?My Profile

  7. Erica says:

    I think a person who has stopped questioning is harmful to themselves and to society. We never in life have all the answers. When we stop questioning, we stop growing. People will sometimes not question because they want to seem strong. But if you question things the right way, you show your strength.
    Erica recently posted…The Why And How Of A Quick CleanseMy Profile

  8. Yep, that’s a sneaky question that can really get to some hard truths if we’re willing to explore it. Thanks for stopping by and especially for contributing to the conversation. 🙂

  9. Oh, I love it when people tell me something I’ve written has made them think! I am so happy that you found value in the article Ruth. 🙂

  10. You and I are definitely on the same page in terms of our curiosity Beverley. I know there have been many times I’ve made people (especially former employers) crazy asking questions and the interesting thing is I experienced a little AHHA moment when I took that left brain/right brain test you linked to in your latest article. The analysis said that I’m a planner and organizer which sometimes makes it difficult for me to see the big picture. I really thought about that and realized that so often when I question things it is about trying to see the big picture of how something is going to work – now I know why!

  11. Very true Sue, which is why I emphasized in the beginning, that one of the greatest benefits is the willingness to question. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Glad you enjoyed it Reba, always appreciate your thoughtful insights. 🙂

  13. Thank you Dana, I’m so glad you found value in the article and agree with you about your point on how the best questions lead to more questions. Always value your thoughtful insights! 🙂

  14. Yes, of course, the “why” questions make sense in certain contexts, none of which are the focus here, but nevertheless worth acknowledging. Thank you!

  15. Thank you for your kind words Anita, very much appreciated!

  16. That is definitely something to keep in mind Millen, and I won’t even try to pretend that I haven’t caught myself doing it on occasion. That’s the thing about the solitary life of a writer, every once in awhile you have this urge to stick your head out of your shell just to get some validation that you’re still on the right track. 🙂

  17. I’m so pleased you enjoyed the post Sushmita!

  18. Ah, great question and quote RoseMary. One of my favorite quotes on that topic is by Norm Cousins, “The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we live.” Thanks for sharing and contributing to the conversation!

  19. Excellent example of another way we can use questions Jeannette, and there are so many. 🙂

  20. Nicely said Jeri. 🙂

  21. Thank you for taking the time to let me know you found value in the article Rosary. I agree ‘What are you pretending not to know?’ is a powerful, thought-provoking question that has a way of sticking with us for a time even when we’re not willing to explore it at first. 🙂

  22. Suzie Cheel

    Brilliant Marty this spoke to me first What are you pretending not to know? that ties in so much with my word to trust, then as i read through hose quotes i thought as i move into this new year with new ways of being i am going to be questioning more in a way to bring more simplicity to my life- thank you xx
    Suzie Cheel recently posted…Did You Choose Your Word For 2017?My Profile

  23. Ruth Bowers

    This post really got me thinking. I love your list of questions, especially the last one: “What are you pretending not to know?” That one brought up a bunch of stuff for me around fitting in and how we often pretend not to know things so that others won’t feel bad, or be intimidated. Thanks for asking the hard questions!
    Ruth Bowers recently posted…[Friday Five] 5 Tips for Creating Good Content QuicklyMy Profile

  24. As a perpetually curious person, I ask a lot of questions, Marquita! Of myself and the world around me. I love the quotes you shared and especially the Albert Einstein quote and also the Rainer Maria Rilke quote. Throughout my own healing journey, I learned to live in the question and not to be so quick to want to arrive at the answer.

    I just finished a process over the 12 Holy Nights, where each day we have a specific set of questions that relate to a different planetary impulse. We write and then do art around these questions. I loved the questions that came out of the questions and I am now working with one of them as a theme to explore during the 7-week art intensive. When people ask me why I ask so many questions, I smile, as I can’t imagine NOT asking questions and having the interest and curiosity to explore what shows up.
    Beverley Golden recently posted…New Year’s Resolutions: Why We Do What We DoMy Profile

  25. Sue Kearney says:

    The deeper I went with your series of quotes, the more I got to the realization that the thing that really matters is that I’m still curious, still asking, still in the conversation.

    That’s key.

    Otherwise I’ve given up.

    Blessed be.
    Sue Kearney recently posted…Women’s Moon Circles — Divine Feminine WisdomMy Profile

  26. Reba Linker

    Thank you, Marquita. This is a wonderful collection of quotes around questions and questioning. I think it is beautiful to highlight this corner of the universe – there is a world of richness in it. It seems that the answer is in the very act of questioning and wondering, rather than knowing. Thanks for this powerful reminder!
    Reba Linker recently posted…Heal in a Heartbeat: Interview with Gary SinclairMy Profile

  27. Dana

    HI Marquita,

    This is right up my alley.
    I’ve been questioning things for a long time – and it’s been the most important thing I’ve ever done.

    I spent a good portion of my life going through the motions and not observing myself or anything else. It’s s easy to get caught up in everything in front of us and within us, and we become products OF the world instead of living IN the world.

    I’ve found that the best questions lead to more questions. Ask as many as possible and the answers are well-rounded and expansive.

    Excellent message here Marquita.
    Dana recently posted…Creativity is a GiftMy Profile

  28. Vatsala Shukla

    I’m thinking about the different ways we use the ‘Why’ question, Marquita. A question that scientists and social scientists ask to create theories and then seek empirical evidence to confirm their theory is correct.

    An inquisitive child discovering more about the world around them.

    The question that puts the person to whom it is posed on the defensive.

    Quite honestly, the thought that the Why question is a sign of self-pity never crossed my mind though the more I think of it, yes, it is disempowering.

    I prefer the What and How any day.

    Thanks for the thought provoking post and the lovely quotes.
    Vatsala Shukla recently posted…Career Networking Tip: Keep alligator happy if you want successMy Profile

  29. Anita Kaiser

    I love this post – and I love your writing. And I love how uncomfortable and quickly I wan to brush past what am I pretending not to know…..as all of us on the path to continued self growth and healing know that’s where the juicy stuff really lies. Wonderful inspiration for me day!

  30. Millen

    Love the topic and the depth of your ‘Questions’ analysis, Marquita! “…when you ask for the opinion of others about how to solve a problem is it because you genuinely don’t know what to do, or because you know and just don’t want to do it?” It is so true! Thank you for yet another thought-provoking post – enjoyed reading it!
    Millen recently posted…Your LASTING Financial Success FormulaMy Profile

  31. Sushmita

    Thank you, Marquita.
    Love your posts always.
    They sink in deep inside and ask questions, so when you wrote about asking questions the level of connection was different.
    You inspire me, and thank you for it!
    Most of the lines in the post made me think I loved them so there are many fav quotes and thoughts this time 🙂
    Sushmita recently posted…Planning to start your Blog? Check Info you need to know!My Profile

  32. I like using the How & What questions versus the Why…good way to get more introspection.
    A quote currently (repeated many times over the years) on my bulletin board is from Sue Grafton’s “D is for Deadbeat.” It is: Sometimes I wonder what the difference is between being cautious and being dead.

    Oh yeah. Bring it.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Wrong Side of Goodbye (Harry Bosch) 2016 – Perfect blend of story, character and settingMy Profile

  33. Love the quotes about questions — all spot on. As a person who takes on too many activities, I need to ask myself, “What am I doing this for?” Is it to give me pleasure or to please someone else? I think we’re all victims of the urge to please other people. In my short time in Florida, I’ve been asked to be on two boards. Been there, done that. I felt guilty — don’t ask me why — about saying no. But if I had said yes, that would have been the wrong answer for me.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Can a Solution Without a Name Solve My Problem?My Profile

  34. Jeri

    What is life without curiosity? Asking questions means not being afraid of the answers. One question always leads to the next as we discover our path in life. And so it goes…
    Jeri recently posted…#Publishing: What is Psychological Suspense?My Profile

  35. Rosary says:

    I went on a retreat once and on the first day, the question “What are you pretending not to know?” was glued on the wall in capital letters. It was the main focus throughout the 3-day retreat which aims to heal you of your past grudges and resentments. I agree that we should always be asking questions because otherwise, how do we know that what we’re doing has a purpose? As a teacher, I always encourage questions. Thank you for sharing this!

  36. Well said Cheryl, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!

  37. Oh yes, that’s a terrific one Donna! And you know, like so many others, I’ve been a fan of Jim Rohn for as long as I can remember and have begun watching some of his old videos on YouTube. The man was not only brilliant, I just love his sense of humor and voice! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and especially for sharing this post. Always appreciated.

  38. Thanks for your kind words Chery! Yes, I’m a true fan of quotations and finding just the right one for a theme is a true labor of love for me, so I’m glad to know they are appreciated. 🙂

  39. I like that quotation as well Dave, and at the risk of adding too much of my own viewpoint to the interpretation of his words, if you think of wiping a window off it doesn’t come clean in one swipe. We have to keep working at it, and I believe the same goes for asking ourselves the tricky questions because the truth is often buried under layers of filters – attitudes, our stories and of course good old ego. Thanks so much for sharing and contributing to the conversation, always value your thoughtful insights!

  40. Excellent point Priya! Many times we do feel reluctant to ask questions because we feel we should know the answers, but this can backfire on us. One reason I love the notion of embracing a “beginner” mindset is because it frees us to appreciate the knowledge we have gained while remaining open to new possibilities. “In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” ~Shunryu Suzuki

  41. And you are always so kind Mark, and I might add I feel the same way about visiting your blog and I have to tell you that I am totally intrigued by the title of your latest post – “One Eyed Cyclops”? I’m heading your way right now to see what you are up to now!

  42. Well said Phoenicia. Here’s one of my favorite quotes on aging that you might appreciate. “Aging only happens to people who lose their lust for getting better and disconnect from their natural base of curiosity.” ~Robin Sharma Thanks for stopping by and contributing to the conversation!

  43. Cheryl

    I love this post. Asking questions is the key to everything. You can’t learn without questions. Asking the right questions is also key. Too many times we are asking ourselves the wrong questions. When we ask the right questions the result can be profound.
    Cheryl recently posted…Hertzco Slicker Brush for PetsMy Profile

  44. Donna Merrill

    Hi Marquita,

    You always have me thinking and that’s a good thing. Each time I visit you there is some introspection that goes on. You are so good!

    My favorite quote here is the one by Jim Rohn. Those questions of who am I around? I have to take inventory of that here and there if I’m feeling negative or down for no reason.

    Some folks are toxic. When you start to feel that toxic energy creeping in, it is time to put up boundaries.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…You Are What You Tweet | With Germany KentMy Profile

  45. Chery Schmidt

    Hello Marty! I really enjoyed your post today. Just as Mark has stated I guess I never really thought about how important asking myself the right questions could actually be. Interesting indeed.

    I also just loved all of the quotes you shared. You always seem to come up with the good ones.
    Great Share
    Thank You
    Chery :))
    Chery Schmidt recently posted…How To Start A Home Based Internet BusinessMy Profile

  46. Dave

    I love the visual imagery of the quote by Alan Alda:

    Begin questioning your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t be able to come in. ~Alan Alda

    I really appreciate the distinction between asking questions and asking the “right” questions, the ones that will serve to move us forward instead of remaining stagnant or regressing backwards. I must admit that I sometimes become narrow-focused, relying upon the way things have always worked instead of opening my mind up to other possibilities. This is a great reminder to not only wipe off that window, as Alan Alda puts it, but also to open it up wide and allow some fresh air inside. Inhaling now …
    Dave recently posted…Perfectly ImperfectMy Profile

  47. This article made me think if I ask enough questions when i should be.It is true that sometime we absorb things and move on … either because we know that we need to move on to the next chore or sometimes feeling awkward to ask questions.Sometimes its just the feeling that we are old enough to go find things out for ourselves…Then I realised there are so many reasons why we dont ask enough questions.I think that we need to have a child like mind to honestly ask genuine questions and many questions.
    Priya Prabhu recently posted…Effect of chanting in a spiritually pure environmentMy Profile

  48. Mark

    Bravo M!

    I never realized, just how important and crucial to staying on track mentally, asking and positioning the right questions can be!

    Thank you! Your post has really opened my eyes wide!LOL!

    And I positively love the quotes from the late, great Jim Rohn, Alan Alda, Leif Ericsson, Jimmy Dean,Neil degrasse Tyson,Liz Wiseman and Marilyn French!

    And thank you so much, for sharing your five, extremely thought provoking questions!

    Because they definitely cause one to do a deep dive!LOL!
    What an awesome post, and an extremely thought provoking read!Thanks M!

    I always get so much value, whenever I stop by!
    Mark recently posted…The Powerful Success Secret The One Eyed Cyclops Can Teach All Aspiring Entrepreneurs!My Profile

  49. Phoenicia

    Thought provoking post as always Marquita.

    The day I stop asking questions is the day I stop wanting to learn.
    I like your point of questioning why we choose to ask about matters we could resolve if we investigated that little bit more.

    I aim not to ask questions until I have carried out a bit of research. It can come across as lazy if you seek answers from others before doing any groundwork.
    Phoenicia recently posted…Accept yourself!My Profile

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