Martin Seminars

12021 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 123  
Los Angeles, CA  90025  
Phone: 310-820-4336   

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The Tape Loop
in Your Head
by Bob Martin

The Why and How

Do you have a repeated phrase or question that frequently runs through your mind like a tape loop? You may have one and not be consciously aware of it. Does that phrase or question support you in the actions you take? 

A friend recently shared with me some of the frustrations he’s been experiencing in business. My impression is that he feels frustrated because people aren’t doing the things that he would like them to do. In fact, they seem to be doing the very minimum possible. Put in the same situation, many of us would  ask ourselves, “Why aren’t these people helping me? What I’m asking of them is not that big of a deal.” Apparently for the people he’s dealing with, what he’s asking requires more effort than they want to put out.

I believe it’s good to ask questions whenever a situation isn’t working the way that we want it to. I also believe that we often find answers for the questions that we ask. The question tape loop that we hear in our head is the way our brain ruminates on a problem as it searches for an answer. Frequently the loop plays until we get an answer satisfies us. The difficulty I see in many of these questions is that they are “why” questions. Asking yourself why something is happening may be helpful in understanding another person’s behavior but it does little to help you to advance your own cause. 

When you ask yourself why something is happening, you’ll probably receive a variety of answers but they may be of little help, and they may even be harmful to how you feel about yourself. You may find many answers to, “Why doesn’t he/she like me?” but will those answers empower you to improve your situation. I believe that we often answer such questions with, “Because I’m too fat/skinny/short/tall/ugly . . . .” You will get answers to questions like, “Why aren’t I smarter?” “Why can’t I make more money?” and “Why don’t I have more friends?” but can you really use those answers to improve your situation? My belief is that the answers to those questions will do little to help your cause.

What I would propose is the use of “how” questions in place of many “why” questions. “How can I learn faster?” “How can I make more money?” “How can I have even more friends?” “How can I get others to do the things that I want them to do?” On the surface, these questions may seem manipulative but what you’re really asking is, “How can I make this a win-win situation?” The answers that you’ll get from “how” questions will empower you and show active steps that you can take to get the results you want. 

Phrasing your self-questions by beginning with “How can I . . .” will put you in an empowered state of mind. There is an assumption built into such a question. Your mind automatically assumes that what you want is possible when you begin by asking “How can I . . .” and begins to look for possible solutions. It’s not difficult to understand how brainstorming for possible solutions is a better use of mental energy than dwelling on reasons why you can’t do something.

And have fun at the same time In addition to asking “how” questions you may wish to add, “How can I do this and have fun at the same time?” Linking fun to an experience will help you to feel motivated to follow through with the actions you need to perform in order to improve your situation. “How can I learn faster and have fun while doing it?” “How can I make more friends and have fun at the same time?” “How can I improve a difficult relationship in a fun way?” There are very few situations that can’t be improved in some way with a little fun.

For the next few days, listen to your thoughts and see if you can find a common question or phrase that you ask yourself repeatedly. Turn your “why” questions into “how” questions and you’ll be well on your way to finding answers that will empower you.

12021 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 123
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(310) 820-4336