5 Questions Alexa Can’t Answer
“Alexa, how many people have swallowed their tongues?”
“Alexa, what’s the hottest place ever?”
“Alexa, where does The Elf on the Shelf go after Christmas?”
These are just a few of the questions my 7-year-old asked Alexa last week. I’ve got to say, the questions are pretty funny. But the fact that Alexa has answers is astonishing.
We live in an age when Alexa, Siri, and Chat GPT are becoming the wise gurus who give answers, guidance, and insight to anything our minds can think to ask. It seems they have the answer to all our questions!
Is there anything they cannot answer? Maybe.
As a counselor, my job gives me the privilege of sitting across from people who are stuck, scared, and at the end of their ability to manage life. And there are times I wish Alexa was in the room to help me answer my client’s questions.
But the truth is, Alexa doesn’t have all the answers.
And that’s because some questions are meant to be asked to a real person, not to an AI software program. Many of life’s questions require deeper investigation and collective wisdom to answer. But don't take it from me, take it from real people.
Here are the top 5 questions I consistently get from my clients, along with a resource I recommend if you’re asking the same question:
- Where is my anxiety coming from?
This one tops the list in terms of frequency and urgency, and I get it! People want to know why their thoughts are racing, why their heartrate keeps soaring, and how they can get it to stop. The good news is, there are satisfying answers to the questions.
Simply put, anxiety is a normal physiological response to a perceived threat. And it is a doorway into deeper issues that can be worked on. When someone asks this question in counseling, we start with managing the symptoms and exploring the underlying meaning together.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, listen to “The Roots of Anxiety” and “Managing the Weeds of Anxiety". These podcast episodes from With You in The Weeds will give you insight into how your brain works and what the root cause of your anxiety might be.
- Why do I care so much about what people think of me?
This question is often asked with a frustrated or exasperated tone. As much as you don’t want to depend on the opinions of others to define their self-worth, this belief persists. Ironically, I think asking this question is a good sign because it signals that you’re beginning to step back from your normal surface level patterns and behaviors. And you’re willing to wade into the deeper waters of asking where this belief stems from and how you can rewire your thinking out of this trap.
If you can relate to this question, listen to “What Every Child Fears the Most" to understand what may be driving your need for the approval of others.
- How can I forgive the person who hurt and betrayed me?
What a great and loaded question! But I always follow up with two questions of my own. First, what do you imagine forgiveness looks like? Some believe it means forgetting the betrayal (which it’s not). Others believe they need to fully reconcile the relationship with the person who hurt them (they don’t).
No matter the answers, what I prefer to explore is, “What needs forgiving?” In other words, how did this other person hurt and betray you? This can be a very arduous and painful process, but when clients have gone through this exploration, I’ve seen them emerge not only with a greater ability and willingness to forgive, but also with a stronger character.
For a substantive look into this complex topic, listen to “Managing the Weeds of Broken Trust" and “Managing the Weeds of Forgiveness". These episodes offer concrete steps you can take to help you process the pain of betrayal.
- Is it selfish to take care of myself and get my needs met?
I’d bet a great deal of money that this question comes from this often quoted but misguided Christian mantra, “God first, others second, self third.” The spirit of this mantra is that it’s godly to put your own needs on the back-burner and serve God and others first. However, what ends up happening is people work so hard to serve in order to get love, respect, and validation from others. And what I notice is they work harder than ever to be there for others, and yet are more exhausted, resentful and burned out than ever.
Why? Because they’re neglecting their own needs. Remember the greatest commandment is “Love God, and love others as you love yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). The airlines understand this verse. Imagine you’re flying and the oxygen masks come down during turbulence. The airlines get it right when they tell you to put your own mask on first so that you can help others put theirs on. If you don’t, you’ll pass out in 3 seconds and be no good to anyone. The same is true in our lives.
If you want clarity on what it means to get your needs met, listen to “It’s Godly to Get Your Needs Met".
- Are events from my past impacting my present?
The last time someone asked me this question, I surprised them by saying “Yes! Exactly!” When I saw they were a bit dumbfounded, I explained how this question would help them pause the movie of their life in order to get a sense of how they got here.
You cannot make meaningful and lasting changes while your movie is still playing. Instead, you need to hit pause and review the past of how you got to where you are now. I have yet to meet with someone who (a) regretted hitting pause and (b) did not learn something in the past that helped them in their present.
To learn why the past is actually in the present, listen to “Your Past Matters More Than Anything Else".
Alexa, what now?
If Alexa is smart, then she will recommend you check out the With You in the Weeds podcast. Every episode addresses a common question we hear from our clients. When you listen, you can be a fly on the wall of conversations between pastors and professional counselors at The Crossing, who are giving clear insight, perspective, and answers to these 5 questions and many more.
As counselors, we know that reading your bible, attending church, and serving others is the starting point for spiritual growth, but deeper questions require more reflection and attention.
That’s why our counseling team created With You in the Weeds - so we can help you address questions that Alexa can’t answer. We hope you listen in!
Don’t miss what’s happening on With You in the Weeds!
Check out our new website for free resources and subscribe to a weekly newsletter that highlights our podcast content to help you manage the weeds of life.