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Bob Livingstone, LCSWBob Livingstone, LCSW
Healing Emotional Pain and Loss

The Benefits of Self-Questioning Part One

Bob Livingstone, LCSW Updated: May 8th 2012

There are many benefits of self-questioning. You can learn to ask yourself questions in a way a therapist may ask. Learning to be introspective and becoming emotionally unstuck are the benefits being discussed here.

woman with questioning lookYou will learn to be introspective. Introspective means the ability to look inside yourself in a non-judgmental way. It is a way of assessing one's thoughts, feelings and spirituality from an objective place. Many of us when we look inside tend to be overly critical and judge ourselves in a punitive way. This is not helpful, productive or will lead to a positive personal change.

When expectations aren't met or you are emotionally wounded by an event; instead of being introspective, you may immediately fall into self-pity or become angry at yourself or others. You have learned that these methods don't end up with any positive results.

Here are examples of looking at yourself from a judgmental standpoint versus being introspective. You just had a job interview and you feel like you bombed out of it. Judgmental: "How could I have not known the answer to her questions? I am such a jerk-why didn't I prepare myself well enough?" Introspective: I really didn't know the answers to his questions. I thought I knew what she was going to ask and didn't prepare myself. The next time I interview for this type of job, I will know what material I should study up on."

Self-questioning leads to becoming introspective. For example if you ask yourself a question while you are in emotional pain, "Why is it so difficult for me to trust others?" Your introspective answer may be, "It is difficult to trust others because when I grew up, I never felt safe. Adults came in and out of my life-there was never any consistency. Therefore I never learned to feel safe. Feeling safe is what I need to work on right now."

Self-questioning will help you feel emotionally unstuck. The definition of being emotionally stuck is feeling numb, like your heart is suffering from psychological constipation and a sense that you have lost your way. This is an experience all of us experience from time to time.

You can become emotionally stuck if you lose someone close to you either by death or by break up. You may not be ready to face the pain that this loss brings, so you withdraw and divorce yourself from this angst. At times this withdrawal is a healthy, coping mechanism to a tragic event. But, as time moves on, this coping mechanism becomes a barrier to connecting with others and the tender parts of you. Self-questioning can help you break through being emotionally stuck. After you determine that you are numb, you can ask yourself the simple, but difficult question, "Why am I emotionally stuck?" You may answer, "I am emotionally stuck because I have lost the ability to feel any sadness, anger, or joy. I want to get out of this space and I know I need to allow myself to cry about the death of my father. He died a year ago and I miss him so much. I know I haven't begun to grieve his loss and I think it is time to start now."

Look for the Benefits of Self-Questioning Part Two coming soon.


Bob Livingstone, LCSWBob Livingstone, LCSW, has been a psychotherapist in private practice for twenty-two years. He works with adults, teenagers and children who have experienced traumas such as family violence, neglect and divorce. He works with men around anger issues and with adults in recovery from child abuse. He is the author of two critically acclaimed books: Redemption of the Shattered: A Teenager's Healing Journey Through Sandtray Therapy and Body Mind Soul Solution: Healing Emotional Pain Through Exercise and his newly released book Unchain the Pain: How to be Your Own Therapist. For more information visit

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