Asking Yourself The Miracle Question

People in their twenties don’t know what’s going on. I learned that from gif-heavy Buzzfeed articles and faux-philosophical Elite Daily posts. It doesn’t matter that I don’t visit these sites — I see them still because they are constantly reposted on Facebook and retweeted on Twitter by peers around my age. There’s a sense of what do I want and what am I doing? that really resonates with people, especially those who recently graduated from college and are starting their careers and entering serious relationships.

These life changes come with genuine questions that often turn into problems. You might ask yourself, “Do I really like my job?” You might then realize the answer is “Nope, definitely don’t.” But then what? What job would you like? Maybe you dream of being an artist and you made a goal to paint more this year, but you are having a seriously hard time actually doing it. Why is it so hard to sit down and paint at night?

Sometimes the answers to your problems can be really hard to figure out.

I’ve written before about solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT), an approach that really resonated with me because it’s so action-oriented and measurable. I also like this approach because it’s useful for people dealing with lots of different things – severe stuff like addiction or depression, but also that feeling of just being kind of “stuck” in life.

One of the main SFBT interventions is asking The Miracle Question. In class, I learned about how to ask a client The Miracle Question — slowly, carefully, and patiently. As I’ve stated before on this blog, Morning Wellness (or online psychology-related sites in general) shouldn’t be treated as a substitute for therapy, but I do think there’s value in reading about psychotherapeutic interventions and seeing if you can take anything from the thoughts they inspire in you.

The Miracle Question, created by Steve deShazer, goes something like this:

Suppose, after we finish here, you go home tonight, watch TV, do your usual chores, etc., and then go to bed and to sleep. And while you are sleeping, a miracle happens and the problems that brought you here are solved—just like that! But because this happens while you are sleeping, you cannot know that it has happened. Once you wake up in the morning, how will you [know] that this miracle has happened? (deShazer, n.d.)

Whenever I watched a video in class of a client getting asked this question, the client looked  at the therapist like, “What, crazy person?” So that’s maybe what you’re thinking.

But think about it: your main problem right now. What if you went to sleep, woke up, and the problem was gone? What would be the first sign that tells you the problem isn’t an issue anymore?

Answering this question does a few things:

  1. It helps you identify the effects that your problem has on you. When coming up with an answer to The Miracle Question, the first miracle that pops into your mind is probably related to the factor that has the biggest negative influence on your daily life.
  2. It reminds you that things aren’t hopeless. It lets you imagine life how you want it to be – without the problem.
  3. It motivates you to start working toward fixing the effects that the problem has on you.

So, let’s say your problem is that you are super stressed because you “have no time.” If you were asked The Miracle Question, you might say, “Well, I’d wake up feeling refreshed, and I’d walk into my living room and start doing yoga, slowly and mindfully, and I wouldn’t be worried about the clock or all the things I have to do.”

That gives you some good stuff to work with – you want to be well-rested, have more peaceful mornings, practice yoga without worry, and move at a slower pace. You’ve identified the things that will help you feel as if a miracle occurred; your problem was solved.

Now how are you going to work to make that miracle real?

For more about The Miracle Question, click here!

Thumbnail photo by Brooke Cagle.

2 thoughts on “Asking Yourself The Miracle Question

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