Questioning your Beliefs

The Power to Question is the 

Basis of all Human Progress.


Self-questioning is a valuable tool with a variety of purposes, including:

  • To actively involve yourself at the moment
  • To increase motivation or interest
  • To evaluate your perception
  • To check on the completion of work
  • To develop critical thinking skills
  • To review previous learning or understanding
  • To nurture insights
  • To assess achievement or mastery of goals and objectives
  • To stimulate independent learning

You may vary your purpose in asking questions during any given time, or a single question may have more than one purpose.

In general, research shows that learning involving questioning is more effective than learning without questioning. 

One important finding is that questions that focus your attention on important elements of a lesson or experience result in better comprehension than those that focus on unusual or interesting elements.


Educators have traditionally classified questions according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchy of increasingly complex intellectual skills. Bloom’s Taxonomy includes six categories:

  • Knowledge – recall data or information
  • Comprehension – understand meaning
  • Application – use a concept in a new situation
  • Analysis – separate concepts into parts; distinguish between facts and inferences
  • Synthesis – combine parts to form new meaning
  • Evaluation – make judgments about the value of ideas or products

Some researchers have simplified the classification of questions into lower and higher cognitive questions. 

  • Lower cognitive questions (fact, closed, direct, recall, and knowledge questions) involve the recall of information. 
  • Higher cognitive questions (open-ended, interpretive, evaluative, inquiry, inferential, and synthesis questions) involve the mental manipulation of information to produce or support an answer.

According to some studies, lower cognitive questions (knowledge and comprehension on Bloom’s Taxonomy) may be most beneficial for early learners. Lower cognitive questions are also more effective when the goal is to impart factual knowledge and commit it to memory.

Higher cognitive questions (application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation) should make up a higher percentage of questions as you become more proficient in your self-questioning. 

Studies show that a combination of lower and higher questions is more effective than the exclusive use of one or the other. Increasing the use of higher cognitive questions can produce superior learning gains for you.

It is important to note, though, that simply asking these kinds of questions does not guarantee higher responses or greater learning gains.

Questioning our beliefs does not necessarily mean changing them.

This doesn’t mean you are done questioning beliefs though. At every level of your growth, you’ll be challenged to ask new questions as the cycle repeats itself.  

As a business owner and founder of Complete Solutions, I focus on helping others question their beliefs about themselves and their environments.  Self-questioning is a tool for greater Self-Awareness.   When depressed, all of your beliefs about yourself and the world around you become pessimistic. When anxious, everything you encounter is dangerous or stressful. In my work, I try to help people question these beliefs and to build new ones that help them accomplish their goals and are in alignment with their truth..

How to Question Your Beliefs:

Ask yourself:

  • When did I first start believing _________?
  • Who taught me ___________?
  • Did I ever question this teaching or seek to educate myself on the issue from various multiple sources?
  • What would it mean if you changed your mind on this issue? Who would it affect?
  • Have I ever discussed this issue with someone who disagrees or sees it in a different way?
  • What would I have to believe is true about me to believe this?
  • What do I know to be true about this?
  • Do my beliefs honor my core values?

All of these questions are healthy ways for you to explore your beliefs and to help you better understand yourself and others.

Why You Should Question Them:

Our brains crave novelty and learning. Make yourself uncomfortable. Be curious and adaptable and your brain will thank you for it as you age. There is a concept known as Brain Plasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to CHANGE throughout life. These changes are good for our brain and may even help us live longer lives.

Questioning beliefs about ourselves is even more important. If a person with depression can go from feeling that they are worthless or helpless (a common belief in people struggling with depression) to even a neutral belief like “things can work out” or “I can make small positive changes,” it will make a huge difference in their ability to recover. Similarly, a little bit of curiosity goes a long way in the fight against anxiety. Instead of anxiously avoiding social situations, for example, a person might question their anxious beliefs by saying to themselves, “I wonder how bad it could be if I only stay for 5 minutes?

Now, I challenge you to start questioning some beliefs of your own. You might find some new information or some new ways to connect with that friend or family member on the other side of the political aisle.

Thanks for reading!

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