Socratic Questioning for Self Discovery and Problem-Solving
6 Questions that simplify life!
This essay is an overlap of two practices that I value the most in my life—self-talk and questioning. I value self-talk because, in this fast-paced life, it helps you to reconnect with yourself. It is important to have a look inside the person you are, question your motives, and understand where the flow of life is taking you.
Talking about questions—I believe every step toward clarity in life demands you to be a curious questioner.
The ability to question is the genesis chamber of wisdom. Questions, as I see them, are little packets of curiosity.
Ask, because you cannot have answers to questions that you never asked. Pursue questions in your life and their answers will subsequently open themselves.
The reason why I admire the practice of Socratic Questioning is that it seeds both—the ability to ask the right questions and self-talk.
What is Socratic Questioning?
Many of us fail to recognize questioning as a skill. But Socrates did. He believed that the disciplined practice of thoughtful questioning enables scholars/students to examine ideas and to be able to identify the validity of those ideas.
Socratic Questioning is a form of disciplined questioning that one can use to pursue an idea or a thought in many directions and for various purposes.
It can be used to explore complex ideas, to reach the epicenter of issues and problems, to uncover biases and assumptions, and to re-evaluate your personal values. Socratic Questioning serves as a window for a subject of study.
The Six Socratic Questions
In this section of my essay, I will explain all the six questions taking into consideration a common problem as an example we all can relate to—
the urge to be more successful?
Here’s a list of 6 types of Socratic Questions that give you ultimate clarity in times of uncertainty, sharpen your brain, and make you a better critical thinker.
1. Questions for clarification
You should ask questions for clarification to understand the definition of key terms and the implication of what is being said.
Example: What is success? Why do I want to be more successful?
2. Questions that probe assumptions
Every argument is based on some assumptions or facts. This type of question digs a step further to investigate those underlying assumptions.
Example: Is success a single, measurable entity? Am I really not successful enough?
3. Questions that probe reasons and evidence
This type of question gains information either by supporting or refuting claims and assumptions of the problem.
Example: Who is an example of someone more successful than me? How did that person become successful?
4. Questions about viewpoint and perspectives
In this type of question, you challenge your current perspective and change your viewpoint to understand the other side of the problem.
Example: Are there any other ways to measure success? How do other people view me? What if I am actually more successful than the people I compare myself to?
5. Questions that probe implications and consequences
This type of question tries to shed light on the outcomes of the actions that you will take to deal with the initial problem.
Example: What will I have to give up to reach my definition of success? Whose life will be made better by my success? Whose life will be made worse? How will people view me if I become more successful? What will happen if I fail?
6. Questions about question
Lastly, you challenge the grounds of your initial question— trying to unravel the reason that stimulated to think about that problem in the first place.
Example: Why did I ask this question? Why is the answer important? How can I apply the answer to this question to my life?
Whenever a situation in life starts to trouble you, don’t run. Sit in silence and ask these questions to yourself. The above list is not a template for your thinking flowchart. It is to show you what in-depth self-talk looks like. There is no order or procedure—you don’t have to answer all these questions every time, sometimes answering a few will do the job. Neither do you need to follow any sequence—you can even start with the last question.
Apart from being a tool for self-exploration, Socratic questioning is widely used by teachers, where they try to induce a “productive discomfort”, not panic and intimidation among their students.
It is also a popular practice among psychologists and therapists. Socratic questioning is a key therapeutic strategy in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for depression.
Here’s a study that claims that the use of Socratic questioning predicted greater session-to-session symptom improvement across the early sessions of CBT.
Socratic questioning, also makes you a more understanding person. Your friends will find it helpful to have a conversation with you.
In my opinion, Socratic Questioning is a systematic way to have a better understanding of yourself, to have more empathy toward others, and to improve your critical thinking ability. It is a precious tool that Greek philosophy has gifted us.
Ask! There’s a lot that you don’t know—about yourself and the world.
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