Why questions matter: harnessing their power for improved mental health

Self-Work is a newsletter by Marcella Chamorro that takes you from stuck to thriving in 5 minutes or less, with strategies to help you show up feeling your best — and deliver your best work, too.

Questions power your life — and you probably haven't even noticed.

The questions you ask yourself daily range from:

“What should I order off this lunch menu?”


“Are the people around me happy with me? My boss, my partner, my kids?”

And even:

"What would I like to improve about my life?"

The famous saying goes:

“When we have arrived at the question, the answer is always near.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every moment of every day, we are constantly out to answer some series of questions we’ve asked ourselves.

But are your questions the right ones?

Today, you'll learn:

  • How improving your questions boosts your quality of life
  • What makes a good question (and, conversely, what makes a bad one)
  • How to ask yourself the right question at the right time

A trip back in time

Just over 10 years ago, a company I cofounded released an app called QuestionUp. It was featured on The Next Web when that was cool, and, though it may look clunky to our 2023 eyes, the UI looked fabulous back in 2012.

I thought it was a journaling app.

Now, I know it was more of a coaching app.

Based on who you identified as and what kind of help you needed, our database would prompt you with a certain set of questions. (Again, seems basic now that AI tools are all the rage, but this was so kEwL back then.)

Since creating this app, my work life has gone through many iterations and transformations. Nowadays, I've moved on to executive coaching.

And questions are still the currency of my livelihood.

The best five words I can hear during my workday are:

"That is a good question."

Because when I ask someone a good question—essentially, the right question at the right time—it helps increase their self-awareness and self-reliance.

Here's how:


Asking the right questions fuels your ability to get to know yourself better. When you dive into the depths of yourself, you come up with new learnings: illuminating your strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations.

You'll surface things you didn't know were there.

Some examples might be questions like:

  • What about this difficult conversation makes me uncomfortable?
  • When looking for a new job, what are my must-haves?
  • Which of my daily activities give me the most energy, and which ones drain my energy?

✅ Knowing yourself builds self-confidence.


Asking yourself better questions also empowers you to trust your instincts, make confident decisions, and take ownership of your life.

With each question you answer for yourself, you'll strengthen the muscle of self-reliance. Making decisions becomes easier, ownership becomes second nature, and your ability to take action will grow, too.

Some examples include:

  • What's worked well for me in the past that I might try again?
  • What inner resources do I have that I can rely on?
  • What skills or knowledge can I build to get where I want to go?

✅ This leaves you feeling empowered.

By building self-confidence and self-reliance, you'll witness a remarkable boost in your well-being and mental health. Not only will you strengthen your relationship with yourself, but you'll also feel empowered to make positive changes in your surroundings.

Yes, please.

Asking Better Questions

Leveraging questions allows you to get what you want out of life, whether that's at work or at home. It's the oxygen that powers my coaching sessions.

My favorite types of questions help you to:

  • Clarify objectives
    • What specific outcome or result do I want to achieve?
    • How does this project align with my long-term goals and values?
    • What steps can I take to break down this initiative into smaller, manageable tasks?
  • Identify potential obstacles
    • What factors might get in the way of my progress?
    • Are there any limiting beliefs or self-doubts that could stop me or get in my way?
    • How can I proactively address or overcome these obstacles?
  • Create action plans
    • What actionable steps can I take to move closer to my objective?
    • Are there any resources or support systems I need to access to facilitate my progress?
    • How can I hold myself accountable for following through on my action plans?

Make sure to stay away from closed-ended questions that limit exploration or assume predetermined answers. Always go for open-ended questions that encourage thoughtful reflection and allow for a surprising perspective to emerge. For example:

✅ "What kind of food do you want for dinner?" → allows for expansive thinking and creative responses
❌ "Do you want sushi?" → limits options and influences responses

There's also a time element.

The best questions often require time to ponder and delve deeper. They challenge assumptions, spark curiosity, and invite introspection.

If you're coming up with an answer to your question quickly, there's likely a better answer you can come up with to really make you dig.

Right question at the right time

So, how can you ensure you're asking the right questions?

It's not always easy, but questions are just tools. The more you use them, the sharper they'll get.

Here are some of my favorite strategies to make sure your questions are top notch.


Developing a habit of journaling can be immensely powerful to prompt yourself with questions that inspire self-reflection and exploration. Some entries may start with meandering thoughts, but as you practice, you'll learn to ask and answer better and better questions.

Personally, I set aside time each day to write in my physical journal. I also dedicate some time each Sunday to specifically reflect on what went well, what went wrong and what I learned over the week.

(Just took a quick look in my Notion journal. I have 148 of these "weekly reflection" entries thus far.)

These journaling practices help me gain insights, learn from mistakes, and move forward in a positive way.

Not learning the same lesson twice, no thanks.

Surrounding yourself with curious minds:

Questions get better in groups.

Pay attention to the company you keep, and find individuals who demonstrate genuine curiosity and support your growth journey.

These are the people who ask thought-provoking questions and encourage you to dig deeper. To do this, here's a good question:

  • Who in your life inspires, challenges, and listens to you?

Whether they are friends, teachers, managers, coworkers, or a coffee shop barista.

Depending on your habits and nature, you may have a couple of people come to mind, or you may come up with a ton. Either way, take note and plan to spend more time with them.

Surrounding yourself with curious and challenging minds will foster an environment that nurtures your quest for self-discovery.

Paying someone to do it:

Working with a professional (a coach, a therapist, a mentor) can be invaluable on your self-exploration journey.

Not only are they trained experts, they're also super objective. They're not in your head or invested in a certain outcome. They're a third party observer to what's going on. Instead of being "in it", being outside of it can be a powerful catalyst for great questions.

I personally go to therapy biweekly and have a coaching session weekly. I take my journey SeRioUsLy.

Though, the process of self-discovery is unique to each individual. These are ideas you can start with and see where they take you.

And remember:

Spending time with powerful questions will do wonders for your self-awareness, self-confidence, and self-reliance.

Who doesn't want to feel more empowered?

If you're up for it, hit 'reply' with your favorite go-to question that gets your mind whirring. I'm always on the lookout for Q's to add to my repertoire. 😉

📣 New episode with Nathan Barry 📣

Episode 2️⃣ of the Process podcast reboot is hot off the press.

Tune in to my conversation with Nathan Barry, founder and CEO of ConvertKit. It's an intense one.

During our conversation, you'll hear us walk through Nathan's entrepreneurial journey — from writing ebooks to designing iOS apps to creating ConvertKit.

(Which is currently at over $40M in annual recurring revenue, no big deal?)

The majority of our chat, though, focuses on the period of time where ConvertKit was losing money, and Nathan's mental health took a nosedive. Nathan shares how he managed to survive that period and what he does now to take care of his mental health (and his team's, too.)

That's all for today's edition of Self-Work

Last week, it was no fun having COVID but, I'll be honest, the downtime was much appreciated. I did my best to turn my work brain off, and playing Guess Who with the kiddos was wildly effective. (We just got a new game called Slamwich. 1 day in and I'm a fan.)

Now that we're all better from COVID, I'm back to heads down work: editing podcast episodes, connecting with Talent Development teams, and enjoying my end of year coaching sessions. (My clients are the BEST, no joke.)

And in true Marcella fashion, I've been journaling up a storm to prepare myself for 2024. There may or may not be a vision board update coming soon to my desktop background. 🫠

Anyway, I'll be back next week with another edition of the Process podcast — this time with one of my work besties. Stay tuned!

Until then, have an amazing week.

You got this. ✌️

All the best vibes ✨

Marcella Chamorro

Mental Health Coach + Executive Coach

Marcella Chamorro

Marcella is mindset coach for award-winning tech teams and an experienced marketing leader with a track record of successful creative ventures focused on mental health. She's worked with both thriving venture-backed organizations and wildly profitable bootstrapped companies to maximize their work performance and well-being.