The Power of the Questions We Ask Ourselves

Is it necessary is a question that has been with me for a while. I have been asking this question of myself and my clients. It was the theme of this month’s gathering, and it is this post’s focus.

We are approaching the Fall equinox and the season that ushers and celebrates change in a most spectacular way. I believe this question can be extremely useful as we try to figure out our next steps.

What prompted the question?

It all began as I was scrolling down my Twitter feed. I came across comments that people were making on a specific thread. The comments covered a range but what struck me was the lack of kindness and empathy that many people exhibited strongly.

I stopped reading and exited the thread but not before I felt the impact of their words. They entered my body and changed my emotional state.

People feel compelled to share without filter or consideration, and the effect this has on our collective is evident. Words have power, and we have to ask ourselves before we speak. Is it necessary? Is it beneficial? Who will be reading this?

In these days of cell phones and social media, our ability to pause and make thoughtful choices has become severely undermined.

As I reflected further, the question seemed to find its place in many areas of life and work.

We are constantly faced with choices, after all. Every moment presents us with a choice, and each choice can affect the way we feel about ourselves, our relationships, our days, and ultimately the unfolding of our lives.

From what to eat and what to wear, to who to be with and where to invest our time, energy, and money, choices are what it’s all about. Choices matter.

Imagine if, before making a choice, you paused and asked yourself … is this necessary? What then?

Imagine the various options and possibilities this simple question could open up.

When a new day begins, you know your attention will be pulled in every which direction.

Your thoughts will come and go, and your emotions, responses, and words will be triggered by that, which you do not always have control over.

You will often find yourself heading down a path that may not be of your choice.

How do you discern what is necessary
to think about
to talk about
to fear, to doubt
to give your heart to
to engage with, and
to let go of?

What if you took a step back before making a choice?

What if you asked yourself, is this necessary before you responded, let fear or anger overcome you, or said yes when you really would have preferred to say no?

What if you asked, is this necessary before you believed that nagging thought that keeps insisting that you are not good enough? Or, when other people’s opinions and judgments, and your own anxiety, fear, and regret continue to hold your dreams hostage?

What if you asked yourself the question while going through your belongings? Would you be able to recognize that some of that stuff does not belong with you anymore, and it’s time to let go?

What if you asked the question before you stepped forward to fix someone or something without having been invited to do so?

It does make for an exciting exercise, doesn’t it?

Go ahead then, pick up your journal, and have fun with the question. See where it takes you, and come back to share your insights in the comments below if you want.

Always great thinking out loud with you!


  • Linda Samuels

    I often say that the quality of our decisions is directly related to the quality of the questions we ask. And the one you posed, “Is this necessary?” is one of those quality questions that cuts right to the heart of things. It’s universally applicable.

    As I read your post, I recognized how I had struggled recently with doubts and fear. Another less helpful question kept popping up. It was, “What if…?” It was bringing me down an unproductive, anxiety-producing road. I was doing my best to refocus and change that internal conversation. And coming to your question, “Is it necessary?” felt/feels so much better.

    It’s a question that opens us up in a gentle way to a choice…a choice that can be positive. There are so many things in life that are not necessary like unhelpful thoughts, physical stuff that blocks our spaces, calendar clutter, or relationships that drain rather than energize us. What’s beautiful about your question is it begs me to answer the opposite one too- What IS necessary? When we can let go of the unessential, unproductive, and damaging stuff, we make way for some wonderful possibilities and a life filled with the things we intentionally choose.

    • Yota Schneider

      I love that you followed the question by also asking, What IS necessary? Answering this one makes room for the richness of our lives that often gets drowned by the non-essential.

      Thank you for sharing your struggle with doubt and fear. It’s something we all struggle with, some of us more often than others. It’s interesting how another favorite question of mine … What if? … took you down an unproductive path.

      Yet, even this question, we can turn it on its head and have it become the gateway to great stuff that we didn’t think was possible.

      What if I changed my attitude … the way I look at things … the way I expect the worse … the way I tend to worry? What if, this time, I expected the best outcome? What then?

      Thank you for playing with me. This is so much fun!

  • Kathleen

    Yota, such a great question to ask ourselves. Your post got me thinking about how we learn that it’s not okay to ask that question, that if we don’t respond in some fashion to everything that is asked of us we’ve failed. And life asks so much of all of us. I started thinking about quality vs quantity. I have to do some experimenting with that. The idea of thoughtfulness rather than reflexive action. So much food for contemplation.

    • Yota Schneider

      Thank you, Kathleen!
      Your observation about how we learn that it’s not okay to ask that question, got me thinking too. You are right, we are conditioned to be on call no matter how unreasonable the standards, expectations, and pressure may be. But, guess what? It may not be easy or effortless but we can change that … One choice at a time!

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