Choices: Do You Have a Learner Mindset or a Judger Mindset?

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Imagine it’s you standing at the crossroads on the left side of the Choice Map. Something has just happened and now you have to solve a problem or make a decision. Perhaps it’s with your business, team, colleagues, or customers. Maybe it’s with family or friends. Or maybe it’s about your health, finances, or plans for the future.

Do this experiment while you think about your situation. First, ask yourself Judger questions (like those below) and notice how they affect your mood and confidence. Now, breathe, switch and instead ask yourself Learner questions (like those below). What happened this time? What changed in your mood and confidence? What possibilities can you now see?

Switching Questions: You really can change your questions and change your life. When you find yourself in Judger and want to be in Learner instead, ask yourself Switching Questions to help you “reset” to Learner. Some helpful ones include: Am I in Judger? Is this what I want to be feeling or doing? Where would I rather be? and How else can I think about this?

Use the Choice Map™ as a powerful tool for getting better results. It’s simple and it works!

Judger Questions* include:

  • What’s wrong with me?
  • Why is everyone so stupid and clueless?
  • Why doesn’t anything ever work?
  • Whose fault is it?
  • How can I prove I’m right?
  • Why bother?

Results of Judger Questions:

  • A mood of pessimism, negativity, and stress
  • Mindset: judgmental, reactive, critical, inflexible
  • Relating: attacking or defensive and win-lose

Learner Questions* include:

  • What do I want? What are my goals?
  • What works and what can I learn?
  • What am I assuming and what are the facts?
  • What am I missing? What are my choices?
  • What action steps make the best sense?
  • What’s possible?

Results of Learner Questions:

  • A mood of optimism, hope, and possibilities
  • Mindset: thoughtful, responsive, curious, flexible
  • Relating: connected, collaborative, and win-win

* We ALL ask Learner and Judger questions and have the capacity to choose which ones to ask — moment by moment by moment.

All above content is Copyright ©1998 Marilee Goldberg, Ph.D. The Art of the Question, and copied from here.


I really like this Choice Map stuff, but when it comes to oppression — which is the experience of being harmed by others — the concept of “choice” changes drastically because NO ONE chooses to be harmed.  However, when we’re being victimized, we still make choices — albeit very limited ones — in order to get through the situation and hopefully arrive, at some point, to a place of safety where we DO have real, true choices.

When we finally do get some physical distance between ourselves and our oppressive situations, the fears, doubts and insecurities that the oppressions created in us linger.  This Choice Map can be a handy tool to help us un-mine our minds when it comes to internalizing the oppressive messages that came along with the actual oppressions and assaults inflicted on us (e.g. I’m a loser, I’m a monster, I’m worthless, I’m unlovable, I’m a freak, They’re freaks, They’re losers, They’re evil, etc.).  If we’re hating, shaming, judging, guilting, and blaming ourselves and others, are we not doing the oppressor’s work for them?

Some may say that oppressed people (pretty much anyone who isn’t heterosexual, white, male, rich and healthy) never fully exit their oppressive reality, and that is true in some ways, at this time.  Most physically disabled people don’t wake up one day and magically regain their health or ability.  Most people of color don’t wake up one day and magically exist in a non-racist world.  Most females don’t wake up one day and suddenly feel free from the constant fear of and hyper vigilance around being assaulted by men.

But there is room to move within our oppressive circumstances that ARE in our control.  Sometimes we don’t know just how much power and influence our minds and Spirits have on ourselves and others.  If I had to put a number on it, I’d say it’s roughly 50/50:  50% of life is in our hands and totally created/controlled by ourselves, while the other 50% is out of our hands and has to do with luck/unluck/fate/The Great Mystery, or however you want to define the unknown and uncontrollable.

Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference. (Virginia Satir)

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3 thoughts on “Choices: Do You Have a Learner Mindset or a Judger Mindset?

  1. Great post! I love this exercise, it’s easy and anyone can do it, in a group or just alone on their own thoughts. Great post as ALWAYS! 🙂 XO

  2. Chuka Dominion says:

    i am thinking seriously to evolved speedily to learners mindset seriosly

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