Wrong Kind Of How?

Are you using ‘how’ correctly?


In my book One with the Universe I counsel readers to ask ‘how’ questions. That suggestion is made in the context of assigning problems to your subconscious mind…a suggestion that’s especially helpful when your conscious mind is struggling to find a solution.

My rationale for suggesting ‘how’ instead of ‘if’ questions is that ‘if’ implies doubt whereas ‘how’ implies a solution. When fed doubt, the subconscious nurtures the doubt. But when it’s fed ‘how’ questions it finds a solution…or so I thought.

Recent experiences with two dear friends has opened my eyes to the possibility of misusing ‘how’ questions.

Correct use

When you ask your subconscious questions like:

  • How can I overcome [obstacle]?
  • How can I repair the [the damage you created]?
  • How can I choose between two opportunities and feel comfortable with my choice?
  • How can I solve this problem?

Implicit in all of these questions is the belief that there is a solution, an answer that will alleviate the fear and anxiety you’re currently experiencing.

You’ve all had the experience of setting aside a problem and moving onto something else only to have the solution suddenly come to mind. What happened was that while setting aside the problem, you assigned it to your subconscious mind by wondering “How am I going to solve this problem?” Notice that it’s a ‘how’ question.

During these times you used your subconscious mind as it was intended to be used, to solve problems that the conscious mind isn’t.

  • You acknowledged that the conscious mind wasn’t providing a solution.
  • You assigned the task to your subconscious mind the task of finding a solution…using a ‘how’ question.
  • You put your conscious mind to work doing something you knew you could accomplish.

This may all have happened subconsciously, outside the realm of your awareness, but it’s what you did. Knowing that, you now realize that you can do it again and again at any time of the day or night…consciously and at will.

Incorrect use

The two friends I mentioned opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to become more precise in my advice. Both were unhappy with their current employment situations. Both knew that they needed to extricate themselves from their employments.

Both asked ‘how’ questions, but the ‘how’ question they were asking was “How is my spouse going to react to my desire to change?” Both spouses had their own visions for the future that included having steady income from their partners.

The problem with this ‘how’ question is that they’re asking the subconscious mind to speculate about someone else’s reaction will be. The subconscious mind is not designed to do that. It’s designed to provide solutions to problems and convert emotions into productive behaviors.

Another reason that their question wasn’t producing a solution is that there was doubt about how the spouse would respond. Both knew that their spouses loved and supported them, but both also knew that what they wanted to do conflicted with some aspects of their spouses’ desires. Hence the doubt about ‘how’ their spouses would react.

Doubt is not congruent with the solution orientation of the subconscious mind. In order for the subconscious to find a solution there must be belief that there is a solution. The good news is that once these friends realized that they were asking the wrong type of ‘how’ question, they shifted to the correct use of ‘how’ and gained the agreement and support of their spouses to do what they desired.

For you

When assigning a ‘how’ question to your subconscious mind, pause. Then ask yourself “Does the language in this question imply doubt?” If it does, keep working on the language until your question presumes a solution. That’s the proper use of ‘how.’

For our kids

Allow your kids to see you assigning problems to your subconscious mind. Verbalize the ‘how’ question you’re using. On those occasions that you asked a ‘how’ question, but didn’t get an answer, let your kids know that you’re revamping your question to remove the doubt that was implicit in your original question.

When you demonstrate your willingness to share your experiences with your kids, especially the ones that didn’t work as you’d hoped, you not only help them gain greater insights into what works and what doesn’t, you make it easier for them to share their challenges with you. These open, candid exchanges will create bonds with your kids that both you and they will treasure for a lifetime.

Please share your wisdom in a comment below.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs.

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program.

Follow dfurtwengler:

Latest posts from

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *