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  • Writer's pictureStephen Carter

How to Use the Power of Questions for Greater Self-Compassion

Lady looking at the words "Believe in Yourself" written on blackboard

Are you your own worst critic? If someone gives you a compliment is your first reaction to disbelieve what you hear? Do disempowering beliefs such as, “I’m not good enough” or “It’s my fault this terrible thing happened?” and similar beliefs undermine your self-confidence and create a nonstop flow of negative self-talk?

If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, stay tuned. You’re going to discover an easy to do way to change disempowering though patterns resulting from outdated beliefs that no longer represent who you truly are today.

Why We Experience Disempowering Thought Patterns

There can be many reasons why we engage in disempowering patterns of thinking. Statements from parents, teachers, and other authority figures we hear as children can play a role. Our six-year old brains weren’t capable of independently judging whether words spoken by an adult or even other children about us or about how the world works were valid.

Another source of disempowered thinking can be the ego, or more accurately the subconscious or semiconscious image we hold of an ideal self that is part of the ego.

When something we say or do does not align with that ideal image, our self-critic takes center stage and begins to chronicle how we "failed" in that situation and then - for good measure – it brings multiple past “failures” to the party in the off chance we aren’t

taking seriously enough the present so-called “failure”.

Regardless of why these disempowered thoughts and self-talk show up, they drain our self-confidence and diminish our sense of self-worth. This is particularly the case when disempowered thoughts and self-talk become chronic, everyday patterns.

Discover the Self-Compassion Power Questions Process

Can we change these patterns and create more consistent empowered thoughts about ourselves so we can live more happy, healthy, and empowered lives?

Yes, we can! One powerful way we can do that is by using a what I’ve named the Self-Compassion Power Questions Process.

I suggest we begin by making a conscious choice to show ourselves more self-compassion. To do that, I encourage you to use a written question and answer protocol with a bound journal or notebook. For most of us physical writing is better than typing on your computer, but use whatever method you will consistently apply.

Set aside at least 20-minutes of uninterrupted time. Mute your phone and close social media apps and other online distractions. Spend a two or three minutes calming your mind and body with diaphragmatic breathing or other stress releasing activity.

When you’re ready, turn attention to choosing and then answering questions that will lead you to insights about your beliefs and stress response patterns.

Questions to Create Your New Empowering Patters of Self-Compassion

Here are some questions you can use to begin your new empowering patterns of consistent self-compassion:

  • What are my recurring patterns of self-criticism? What are the triggers that set those patterns in motion?

  • Does self-criticism help me in any way? If so, how? Am I better off being self-critical or being self-compassionate?

  • How can I identify any valuable insights and determine what changes, if any, I would make in any similar future situation?

  • How can I create a consistent habit of challenging disempowering beliefs and self-talk when those arise?

  • If I was talking with someone I cared about and they told me this situation happened to them, what would I say to help them feel better?

And finally, the most important question of all:

How can I consistently be kinder and more compassionate to myself?

A Letting Go Process - Combine Questions With an Affirmation

One way to begin a Letting Go Process for disempowering beliefs is to ask questions specifically related to a given experience causing self-criticism.

Start with:

  • Can I identify the underlying belief or beliefs that may be supporting my self-criticism?

  • Is this my belief or did I accept it from someone else? If from someone else, who?

  • If this belief, assumption, or opinion was useful at one time, is it still useful now?

  • If I let go of this belief, assumption, or opinion, how will I feel? How will I benefit?

When you’ve answered these questions as best you can, it’s time to apply this or a similar releasing affirmation of your choosing:

"I choose to release any and all attachments to this belief, assumption, or opinion."

After allowing this affirmation to process for 20 to 30 seconds, ask yourself:

As I release any and all attachments to this belief, what positive changes do I notice in my body and mind?

You can of course also add positive affirmations for self-care, self-compassion, and self-kindness such as,

"I choose to consistently extend kindness and compassion to myself."

Your Self-Compassion Power Questions Process

These questions are not exhaustive, but they will help you begin. Select two or three questions to start your self-compassion process. Work with these and other questions that come to mind and then continue the exploration and Letting Go process over coming days, weeks and months.

The more you engage in the Self-Compassion Power Questions process, the more positive changes you’re likely to experience.

FREA's Self-Care Skills Resource

FREA offers a rich resource of self-care videos, PDF guides, and so much more. You can begin your exploration of these self-care resources at

If you have any questions about what I’ve shared in this post, please be in touch. I can be reached by email at


Stephen Carter has been helping people release stress and achieve happier, more productive lives for more than four decades. You can learn more about his work at


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