The One Question to Ask Yourself

It’s in-your-face. It’s snarky. It’s no B.S. and confrontational. Most importantly, it’s effective.The next time you are confronted with a decision, a stressful situation, a problem, or an emotion that impacts you in a negative way, ask yourself this question:


I have to smile because every time I think of this question, I think of my brother when we were kids. I would come home from school, bragging in that obnoxious-big- sister-way about something great I did, and that’s the first thing he would say. “So What?” with that ornery-little-brother expression on his face. Aaargh! It stopped me right in my tracks.

At the time, I didn’t understand why that question held such power over me – and made me so angry! Only later did I realize that I only told my brother about the “A” I got on my spelling test to make myself feel important at his expense. Not a great way to build loving sibling relationships, let me tell you.

That one question called me out, and it will call you out as well when you are unable to move forward. These two little words cut through the unimportant things and get right to the heart of what’s happening. By asking So What? you wake up with a little mental slap and shake off the fog that has been holding you back.

What These Words Mean and How to Use Them

So What? invites you to dig deeper. By asking this question, you get closer to the real significance of your issue.

The next time you find yourself in a tough situation, start by asking, So What?Really. Say it out loud. I mean it! Shout it if you need to. Find a time and a place where you can really do this. Voicing this question snaps you out of that fog. You will feel the impact in your emotions and may even get a physical shot of energy – just what you need to move forward and solve the issue you are facing.

Now dig into these questions.  The answers you find will lead to clarity, insight, and action.

  • What does this really mean for me?
  • What is important about this? IS this really important?
  • What am I meant to learn from this?
  • What am I meant to do with this?
  • What impact does this have on myself and others?

For greater effectiveness, add “So What?” to the beginning of each question.

A Few Examples

  • “So What? What does it really mean for me now that my kids have left for college?”
  • “So What? What is important about being late for work this morning?”
  • “So What? What value does this new product really give to customers?”
  • “So What? I have been feeling stressed for a few weeks. What should I do to take care of myself?”

A note here: If the real, true answer to your “so what” is to give yourself a break, to let go, to see a tough situation simply as a life learning experience, give yourself the grace to do what is needed. “So What” does NOT imply that you are at fault, or are a bad person. It helps you get to the real heart of the issue…the truth of what is and what is next.

So Now What?

Recognize when something is keeping you from moving forward, especially if it keeps happening. Face that issue head-on. Now go ahead. Ask that question. See what happens.

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