As I’ve said on this blog before, people often come to therapy or seek advice when issues have grown to the point of feeling uncontrollable. Circumstances get out of hand, one thing leads to another, and before you know it, that little pebble turns into the whole wall feeling like it’s crashing down. So what happens then? Well, it’s most definitely exhausting and overwhelming. Problems have probably been adding up for a while. I think we can all relate to those moments, right? In those moments, wouldn’t it be great if we could just snap our fingers and make everything better?
Unfortunately we can’t just snap our fingers and make something happen (we could still dream though). But, let’s suppose for a second that it did. One of the best questions to ask yourself and anyone in those situations is what’s called the “Miracle Question” or the “Magic Wand Question.”
“Suppose I had a magic wand here. I wave this wand, and all the thoughts and feelings you’ve been struggling with are no longer a problem for you. What would you then do differently? What sort of things would you start doing doing or perhaps do more of? How would you behave differently towards others? What would you do differently at work, at home, on weekends?”
This is a question posed in a recent manual I’m reading for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT. This question isn’t specific to ACT though. I also read a similar question when reading about an intervention for children and families for Solution-Focused Brief Therapy. This question is a key question for therapists. Why is this such a key question though? The truth is that it helps make everyone involved more aware of what specific changes we want in our lives.
It’s very easy to get lost in the problems and what’s wrong. However, at some point, there needs to be a shift to start focusing on the solution. Then the next step is, what does that solution look like? If you want to trust your boyfriend or girlfriend more, how would you know you could trust them? What are some important things for you? If you want your friend or family member to listen to you more, how do would you know they’re listening? What are some things that you could say “Oh yea, they’re really tracking with me.” If you were to feel less sad or lonely, how would things be differently? Would you go to that party your friend invited you to? Would you ask people to hang out more?
Think about the life you want and imagine how it would look and feel. What would you do? How would you feel? Who would you be hanging out with or not hanging out with?
These are all things to think about. At the core of this question, it’s saying live from the end. Live from the end result of what you want. If you have vision of the changes you want, how it will look like, feel like, taste like, then you’ll better be able to identify what is and is not part of your vision. As Iyanla Vanzant says,
“Your vision will pull you forward.”
This “Magic Wand Question” is just a tool to help clarify your vision. It gives you concrete ideas and goals of what you want. Feel that vision in every sense so you know what it will look like. By knowing what it will look like, you can take specific action to get you there. If it’s a vision that is shared with multiple people, then share it! Use it as an opportunity for growth so your partner can understand what it is that you’re looking for.
Think about what you’re hoping to change in your life. How would it look if that change was made? What would it look like? Would you do something differently? Would someone else do something differently?
Excerpts from this post taken from the book ACT Made Simple
- Stop focusing on the problem and start focusing on the solution
- Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Creating a life worth living
- Remove your inner thorn to avoid less and accept more!
- Lessons in the art of living
- Affirm how far you’ve come!
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Bringing Psychology to the 21st Century
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