Why do you ask questions? We may assume that the answer is to get information, but that isn’t the whole truth. Sometimes we ask questions to show off, demonstrate interest, or be evasive. There are also deeper reasons for asking questions. Sometimes questions are motivated by our emotional reactions and our feelings of self-worth. It might surprise you that asking questions can also be a reflex, implying that it is a behavior that you don't control. If you want to understand why you ask questions, you will need to understand your needs and self-worth.
Self-worth is a simple yet painfully complex part of who we are. Simply put, self-worth is how we view our value as a person. It is literally what we think of ourselves. Unfortunately, in much of our society, we conceptualize value in a transactional way. That it is our value that causes people to accept, love, praise, or respect us.
Our concept of self-worth starts forming at an early age. For children, self-worth is determined by the actions that they need to exhibit to get attention from the influential people in their lives. Self-worth is impacted by the expectations, both conscious and unconscious, of parents, teachers, institutions, and siblings. These expectations tell us who we need to be and what we need to do to be accepted and loved by society.
Self-worth helps us to meet our needs by assuming that our worth will lead to people accepting us. The need for acceptance is an essential part of being human. If we weren't accepted, how could we survive in modern society? How could we make a living or find support?
When we feel like our self-worth is in jeopardy, that it has the possibility of being diminished or called into question, our bodies trigger intense reactions. These reactions are often called fight or flight and are part of a survival mechanism. When activated, this can be uncomfortable. The discomfort is a series of complex emotions intended to push us into action. The actions are meant to stablize our self-worth and lead to acceptance. For some people, these actions are asking a question or a series of questions.
The questions are a reaction to the percieved loss of worth. They might be intended to demonstrate intellect if your self-worth is dependent on intelligence. If you think people like you because you are smart, you will use your questions to prove that you are smart. Or, if you think people like you because you care about them or are a good listener, then you will ask questions to show them that you are indeed a good listener.
You might be noticing that there can be some element of unconscious drive in the propensity to ask questions. If you are observing that, you are right.
Self-worth is a delicate thing. The unpleasant truth is that if we try to prove our worth to another person or ourselves, we will never feel worthy. Feelings of value come from vulnerability and authenticity. They come from being accepted for who we are without matching ourselves to other people's expectations. It is a scary concept because when we are vulnerable and aren’t accepted, it can be pretty painful.
It is essential to understand why you are asking questions. For many of us, myself included, we don’t always realize why we are asking questions. Our questions are often driven by our emotions and needs rather than a conscious mindset. Developing awareness and understanding why we ask questions is a critical step in taking control of our behaviors. This type of change doesn’t happen overnight, but the insights in this article are a solid starting point.