The world can be a confusing, difficult place. An infinite amount of possibilities and paths stretch out before us, and this can be overwhelming.
What’s worse is that one’s own mind can betray them, plaguing us with self-doubt, self-consciousness, anxiety, and a lack of self-worth.
While it is always a good idea to try to understand how we’ve reached a certain point in our lives, or how we’ve come to believe the things that we do, there are certain questions that are not worth dwelling on for very long.
Smart people ask a lot of questions about a lot of things; however, they also know when it is time to let a question go so that they can move forward.
There is nothing wrong with asking yourself questions to better understand your own path in life, but there comes a point where you must realize that some questions simply don’t have answers.
Other questions do have answers, but they are unpleasant or difficult to face. And some questions don’t serve much of a purpose at all, as they are too intangible to have concrete answers.
1. What’s The Worst That Can Happen?
This question can be either productive or destructive depending on how you ask it.
It is a valuable question to ask in the planning stages of any venture (be it travel plans, a business proposal, or even a new relationship). Anticipating and planning for the worst helps you curb potential damage or disruption that may come at you from unexpected angles.
As long as you are able to let go of the question and move forward on executing your plan, you should ask it.
It becomes a problem when your mind just runs in circles from dwelling on it too much. Suddenly, what was a helpful process of risk mitigation becomes and anxiety-generating maelstrom of overthinking and catastrophizing.
2. Why Me?
Things happen. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad. Sometimes they’re brilliantly wonderful, sometimes they are soul scarring awful.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in wondering “Why me?" due to the things that you experience in your life. Could you have done this better? Could this different choice have had a different outcome?
There are far too many times where the only, rather unsatisfactory answer that you’ll come up with is “maybe," which is not helpful at all for closure or the ability to move on.
Sometimes, things just happen with no rhyme or reason and all we can do is accept that they happened and move on.
3. Does This Person Like Me?
The desire to belong is a natural feeling that everyone experiences. Yet, the wise understand that they do not have to be everyone’s cup of tea.
In fact, the people who water themselves down to be liked often find that they still feel alone, because they are not loved or valued for the person that they actually are.
It’s far better to be true to yourself as you will catch the attention of people who find the type of person you are attractive. And if someone doesn’t? Great! There are billions of people in the world. You won’t be liked by all of them. It’s really not worth wasting time wondering.
4. What’s The Point?
The challenges and obstacles that come with life can seem non-stop. It’s easy to feel like you’re getting sucked under the surface because of the momentum that life can move forward with.
Optimally, we should keep our eyes facing forward, looking for the next goal and milestone on the horizon of our self-development.
But life isn’t always optimal. Sometimes we try things and they just don’t work out. Sometimes there are long strings of setbacks and failures that can cause us to question why we are even trying in the first place.
We must avoid dwelling on the losses and even the wins, because dwelling on them serves little purpose. The point is that we are just living life, working on our goals and finding happiness to the best of our own ability.
The need for approval can easily derail your desires and goals. Like many things, there needs to be a comfortable middle ground.
One should discuss desires and goals with the people it will affect to ensure that they are agreeable with a choice that may impose repercussions on them. It is not okay to either force or be forced onto an uncomfortable course of action.
On the other hand, we sometimes end up seeking approval for our thoughts, plans, or perspectives with the hope of receiving support. That doesn’t mean that the other person will necessarily agree with you or think that a course of action is a good idea at all.
Sometimes you just have to follow your intuition regardless of what other people think or say. There is no harm in doing so as long as you’re not harming yourself or someone else in the process.
6. Is This My Turning Point?
As humans, we want to find meaning in the things that transpire in our lives. It is so easy to get wrapped up in what we think could or should be.
Perhaps we suffer a tragedy and are afraid of what our future will look like because of it. Maybe something great happened and we are now looking forward to what this new development has in store for us.
These ponderings are largely pointless. They deal with the future, which is not promised to any of us.
The practice of mindfulness and many spiritual beliefs suggest eliminating this type of wondering because it really doesn’t do you any good.
Is it worthwhile to agonize over the details of what could happen? Should we really be celebrating an accomplishment that is not yet fully realized? What purpose does it serve in the grand scheme of things?
7. When Will This End?
There are so many trials and tribulations in life that are nothing but unstable gray areas. We try to put our feet down on something solid, but there’s nothing solid to be found.
Of course, we want to see a tangible end to whatever difficulties we face, but that can be so difficult to see when you’re struggling through something serious or severe.
We cannot allow ourselves to spend too much time thinking about and looking for the end to our suffering.
In doing so, we increase our own emotional load and increase the weight that we are carrying on our shoulders, subjecting ourselves to being broken down as we try to find our way through. It’s a pointless question that only amplifies our suffering.
What questions don’t smart people ask? Well, that’s a problem, because smart people are constantly asking questions.
Smart people realize that they don’t know everything; that there is information out there that they do not have that might prove useful for overcoming their situation. Certain questions need to be asked, pondered, and then acted upon.
The key to striking the right balance is in knowing when it’s time to stop asking the question and to just move forward.
An easy way to go about managing the time you spend thinking is to set aside a specific amount of time for contemplating and researching a problem.
You may later find yourself going back to the same question, over and over, but you can train your brain to stop doing this by forcing those thoughts out of your mind when you realize that you’re thinking about it outside of the allotted time.
Journaling is another excellent option for self-improvement. The act of writing can help you sort out and organize your thoughts, allowing you to derive a course of action from them. Furthermore, you can set aside a certain period of time to journal and get those thoughts out of your mind, so your mind can continue to flow.
Don’t stop asking questions – just figure out when it’s time for you to move on from them.