The Art of the Question

By Haven Lindsey  in  blog  on  02.20.2015
Have you lived long enough to discover that all that stuff you read, heard or was passed down to you by family members actually hold some truth? You know what I mean…when something you’ve heard all your life such as, ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’…or…’what goes around comes around’…or…’this too shall pass’…or a hundred other things. There’s a reason your Auntie told you to let sleeping dogs lie.I am fortunate enough to have reached that grand age of discovery: the lessons I was taught, I’ve now begun to learn. I’ve finally grown enough to revert to my childhood game of connecting the dots and man-o-man do those dots connect.

The path to learning and growth is paved with questions. We cannot grow without asking ourselves some deeply-rooted questions yet I realize it’s not so much the act of asking…it’s the art.

Ya gotta know what to ask. That’s the tricky part – the artful part. It’s not about asking a question. It’s about asking the right question.

Case in Point: Recently, I was hurt by the words of another and was confused and perplexed as to the best response. I understand that only those who are hurting and in pain are capable of hurting others and that resulted in me feeling upset while also feeling compassion for the person who hurt me. Evolved enough to not react to the hurtful words yet not yet evolved to understand the best response while keenly aware that this person was coming from a place of pain.

Feeling emotionally side-swiped, I decided to approach a friend with openness and vulnerability; I let my tears flow as I explained what had happened and he patiently listened to me describe what had happened and I asked, “Why did this happen?”, “Why does this person think he can treat anyone this way?” Of all the kind, generous and considerable wise words he shared, his quick analogy about the badger got right to the point.

                                          It’s all about the art of the question.

My wise friend gently explained to me I was asking the wrong question. He said, “If you are sticking your hand in a badger’s cage trying to pet it behind the ear and you keep getting bit, the question isn’t why is he biting me, the question to ask yourself is why do I keep sticking my hand in the badger’s cage.”

How does one thank a friend for such valuable advice? A common “Thank you” seems to pale in comparison to the lesson learned. As I envisioned the angry badger contained and lashing out, ding…ding…ding rang the bells of recognition and understanding. With that simple, yet visually effective analogy, the confusion and pain subsided, my laughter returned accompanied by a healthy perspective.As I thought a little bit longer, I realized the importance of the questions we pose…we’ve got to ask the right ones. I was asking why I was getting bit when I ought to have simply asked, why was I sticking my hand in the cage.

                              Asking the right question is not an act,
it’s an art and the right question will render the response
that will help you understand, heal, thrive, evolve and grow.

Just as it takes time to develop an appreciation for art, it takes time to develop the ability to ask the right question, the one when answered, will lead you to a better place; a place of ownership and freedom. If you stick your hand in the proverbial badger’s cage and ask why you got bit, perhaps it’s time to ask a different question. Perhaps it’s time to move away from the act and closer to the art…not just any question, but the question. And, the question is incrementally more difficult to answer than a question…and well worth the effort. There will always be the proverbial badger’s in cages ready to strike out and bite us and by asking the right question we are better prepared to not poke the angry badger.

Thanks for reading,
~ Haven

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