Question-framing mobilizes your perceptions.
For example, if you decide that you are going to buy a four-wheel drive vehicle, you probably ask the question, “Which one should I get?” You can be sure that the next time you are on the road, you will notice Jeeps, Explorers, and Range Rovers in record numbers. You will also start to see articles in the paper and advertisements featuring these types of vehicles, and you may even discover that some of your friends and acquaintances own one.
All these would have gone unnoticed if you hadn’t set your mind on four wheel drives.
The phenomenon of seeing what we expect or want to see is called mindset or mental set.
Our mental set functions all the time, consciously or nonconsciously. A limited mental set hampers solutions to challenges. As Abraham Maslow explained, “People who are only good with a hammer, see every problem as a nail.”
A critical key to problem solving is expanding your mindset by cultivating an open questioning approach. The questions that engage your thoughts influence the quality of your life. By cultivating an open questioning state of mind, you broaden your universe and improve your ability to travel through it. Examples of some questions as starters can be found at reflective questions.
It’s easy to talk about having an open mind, but frequently mindsets are constrained by prejudice and emotion. The discipline of opening one’s mind requires learning to separate feelings from perceptions. To make this distinction, ask yourself how you honestly feel about a problem. Ask, “Do I have any prejudices, ego attachments, fears, or limiting mental sets that are preventing me from assessing this problem accurately?”
Feelings play an intrinsic role in any problem-solving process. Intuition, hunches, and gut feelings can be our best allies, but unacknowledged feelings and repressed emotions cloud our inner wisdom.
Realizing that we have mental sets, that our feelings help shape them, and that our universe is restricted by them can be the first step in a more enlightening journey. We have a responsibility to be aware of our own mindsets.