If someone tries to make you do what they think is good… do you like that? Most people answer "no": we value the freedom to choose.
When someone does something bad to you… do you like that? Most people, again, answer "no": we like it when others are good to us.
But we don't always want to do good to others, and it can be hard to guide a child, adolescent, or employee to use freedom wisely.
It can be hard to use freedom wisely ourselves, too—and little eyes are often watching.
Imagine discovering a way that you can do good, freely, with minimal effort.
Imagine choosing good… because it's what you want to do.
Imagine not needing to be forced to do things—and not needing to force yourself.
Imagine having a body and mind that cooperate in helping you live peaceably with others.
You don't have to imagine. Practicing the 8 Questions for just 60 minutes per week can help you do just that—and it can help your spouse and children, too.
Sometime when you're out in a crowd, look around you. Notice all the different faces, different body types, different styles of clothing. Can you guess what different professions these people might have? the different moods they might be in now? the different home lives they come from, or might be returning to this evening?
Can you recall a time when you were offended? a person who's wronged you? Do you know someone, perhaps of a different faith, who understands the world differently than you do—or seems to live in a different world altogether? You and them. Different. Really different… right?
People are different, it's true—but we're also very much the same. Beyond ideology, each of us shares the same Necessities—the same foundational needs—as everyone else. These are the needs we won't take with us to the next life; they're part of our way of being now, physically, in this world.
These are our necessities:
- We need space. (To state the obvious, we're 3-dimensional.)
- We need to move.
- We need to draw distinctions. (Not everything is the same.)
- We need to find sustenance for life (air, water, and food).
- We need to stabilize health among our cells (expelling wastes and supporting our bodies' delicate balances.)
- Finally, we need to sleep.
At the end of the day, we have a lot in common with others. We share the same Necessities. And more often than not, we can get them met most effectively when we help others get their needs met, too.
We also share the same, eight Basic Needs with everyone else on the planet:
- We need to be okay—to know, "We're good, and things are good with us right now." This lets us feel safe… instead of feeling fearful, guilty, or angry.
- We need to have enough—and, thereby, to feel secure.
- We need to act on what's urgent.
- We need to choose what's relevant.
- We need to do what we can.
- We need to be trusted and liked.
- We need to stay connected.
- We need to matter.
Unfortunately, we also share a universal challenge:
- Unmet Needs: People who aren't aware of their needs or the actions they can take to get their needs met often become self-effacing, or neglected. However…
- Compulsivity: People who focus on their needs often become problem-focused, or neurotic, while
- Self-Centeredness: People who focus on justifying what they need and getting what they want often become self-centered, or narcissistic.
So, if we're not going to focus on our problems or ourselves—yet we still think it's important to get our needs met and to help others get their needs met, too—what can we do? That's where the 8 Questions come to the rescue!
The 8 Questions change our focus. They orient us to opportunities for constructive action. They empower us to act in ways that get our own and others' needs met, without becoming overly focused on ourselves or our problems. They help us do good, freely, with minimal effort.
Q: What does the basic process of the 8 Questions look like?
A: There are several processes, of course: learning the 8 Questions, practicing the 8 Questions, and using the 8 Questions to help oneself and others do good, freely, with minimal effort. We'll talk about the first two soon. The process of using the 8 Questions looks like this:
A person asks Question 1. If the answer is "yes," (s)he continues on to Question 2. A person continues asking each Question and, if the answer is "yes," continuing to the next Question… until all the Questions have been asked. At that point, the person is free to resume whatever (s)he was doing, or to do whatever (s)he was considering doing.
Q: Why does a person keep going when answers are “yes”?
A: If all the Questions were answered “yes” about a particular course of action, that course of action will almost always result in the Questioner's—and others'—needs getting met. Knowing this frees a person to act with confidence, without needing to think of him-/herself or his/her needs.
Q: What happens if a person answers a Question “no”?
A: The person stops.
Q: Why does the person stop?
A: First, a “no” answer means that the questioner isn’t in a good state of mind to ask subsequent questions; (s)he’s prone to self-deception. Future “yes” answers, therefore, aren’t reliable guides.
Second, a “no” answer means that the questioner isn’t in a good state of mind to take action; his or her awareness and ability to avoid injury are compromised. This makes continuing after a “no” answer risky.
Finally, a “no” answer means that either one or more Necessities, or the Basic Need that corresponds to the question we asked, likely isn’t being met. Pausing gives a person an opportunity to meet that need.
A Systematic Method
The 8 Questions methodology is systematic.
The 8 Questions help people whose thinking isn’t naturally spontaneous to be sufficiently present in the world that they can be more flexible in the decision-making—both because they’re more in touch with the world, with their own desires, and with the people around them, and also because they can relax in the awareness that they have truly considered, as best as they can, everything they need to consider before making a decision.
The 8 Questions focus a person’s attention, systematically, on what successful, empathetic people often consider when making decisions. Successful, empathetic people often ask some version of the 8 Questions spontaneously—without even thinking about it. When prompted, they recognize: “Well yes, I considered that… and that… and that… and that—yeah, most of the 8 Questions—when making my decision. I guess I wasn’t conscious of it.”
Help for Anyone Willing
Even for a person who, 90% of the time, considers every relevant factor when making decisions, an assurance that “I’ve considered what I need to consider” can still be liberating. The 8 Questions provide that assurance: they’re an important part of an approach to decision-making that can raise the percentage of time that a person, when making a decision, considers every relevant factor they know about, to 98… 99… even 100%—as long as that person has honestly answered every Question “yes.”
Since everyone, at times—even successful, empathetic people—occasionally overlook important factors when making a decision… the 8 Questions can help anyone!
To determine whether the 8 Questions are right for you, consider: do you want to (a) do good, (b) freely, (c) with minimal effort? If so, the 8 Questions can help.
Is the "8 Questions" Process for Me?
The 8 Questions help people (a) do good, (b) freely, (c) with minimal effort. The process helps people act not just responsibly, but also responsively. Because of this, the 8 Questions are often particularly helpful for people who:
- Have autism-spectrum conditions or stress or mood disorders, which make it more difficult to do good under stress, without personally breaking. (The 8 Questions help people adapt to change and, over time, significantly reduce stress.)
- Have grown up in legalistic families or adopted rigid parenting styles. Either makes it more difficult for parents to give themselves and their children freedom to fail, grow, and begin to take ownership of their learning. (The 8 Questions help people handle freedom.)
- Have struggled with workaholism or perfectionism. Either complicates finding and adopting effort-minimizing, sustainable ways of living. (The 8 Questions facilitate more relaxed, more enjoyable living.)
- Have expected their lives to turn out a particular way and been disappointed when things didn't go as planned. (The 8 Questions open up a different, less mechanistic way of looking at and being in the world. This can be very liberating!)
If you want to be able to get your own needs met without focusing too much on yourself or your needs—of if you want this for your child—the 8 Questions can help. Ultimately—because everybody can benefit from doing good, freely, with minimal effort—anybody can benefit from the 8 Questions.
How Long Does It Take?
Q: How long does it take to learn the 8 Questions?
A: Learning the "8 Questions" process generally takes between 10 weeks and 6 months. Mastering it takes a lifetime—but since people see benefits throughout the journey, you can take your time. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start seeing benefits—but once you've begun your journey, there's no hurry to finish. It's more important to develop asking, answering, and acting on each Question into a habit.
Q: How long each week will I (and/or my child) need to practice?
A: We generally recommend 60 minutes per week: much more, and the process can get annoying; much less, and habits don't get well established. Regardless, you won't have to block off a solid hour for training.
The 60 minutes of training aren't consecutive. When you're training, a pocket timer will vibrate every twelve minutes to remind you to ask whatever Questions you've learned thus far about whatever you're doing now or are thinking of doing soon. After asking the Questions—generally, less than a minute later—you can resume what you were doing or begin a new activity, perhaps in response to direction provided by the Questions.
If you ask yourself the Questions once every 12 minutes, practice will last about five minutes per hour. Spread over four hours, that's 20 minutes of training. Three days per week, that's the ideal 60 minutes. Those minutes, moreover—once invested—will return many times your investment. They often enable hours of work that's focused and productive, and of play that isn't bogged down by fear, guilt, anger, worry, or other negative emotions.
Q: Can the "8 Questions" work for children who can’t—or won’t—ask the Questions themselves?
A: Yes. It’s often best, in fact, for a mentor (whether a parent, teacher, caregiver, or mature friend) to introduce the 8 Questions by asking each Question him- or herself. Not only do children learn the Questions and related key concepts by observing, the process of asking and answering each of the 8 Questions often changes the mentor in powerful and profound ways.
Q: Do the mentor and child learn all 8 Questions at once?
A: No; one question is introduced at a time. This gives the mentor and child ample opportunity to memorize and practice corresponding Needs, Actions, and HANDLE Activities. Upon learning Questions 7 and 8, a mentor or child can ask these at any time.
Q: Is this hard to implement?
A: Implementing the 8 Questions sometimes involves a shift in perspective for parents, teachers, and caregivers. This shift in perspective can be challenging, but for parents who want to see their children mature into responsible, responsive adults—or for adults who want to be more responsible and responsive—it's an important, rewarding shift to make.
Any new habit takes time and dedication to master, and this process is no exception—but the results are worth it.
The process itself is straightforward, and we provide whatever help mentors need along the way.
Q: What happens when a child is visibly unable to answer a Question “yes”?
A: The mentor makes sure the child has his or her Necessities met, then focuses both on ensuring everyone's corresponding Basic Needs are met, and also on helping the child meet whatever Basic Need corresponds to the Question being asked.
Q: How does this happen?
A: First, the child and mentor learn specific HANDLE® Activities, which make it easier to get Basic Needs met. Once a Question is answered "no," pausing to do a HANDLE Activity or two together can make a world of difference!
Q: You said “first.” How else can a mentor and child help meet each other’s needs?
A: Each Question corresponds to one of the 8 Basic Needs, to a particular Sensory System (helped by HANDLE Activities), and to a particular Action that can be taken to get the Basic Need met.
The mentor thus also focuses on helping the child take the Action they have memorized and seen help before. This shift in focus itself—toward productive action and away from "trying harder," compliance, or whatever problems have cropped up—is often immensely helpful. As soon as the child is able, (s)he can take the appropriate Action and resume asking the remaining Questions that (s)he’s learned thus far.
What Is the History of the "8 Questions" Process?
Q: I haven’t heard of this process before. Who came up with it?
A: Matthew McNatt developed this process. He began working on it in 2000, three years before he founded the McNatt Learning Center. He finished its development in 2010, after a decade of dedicated work, and has enjoyed teaching it to clients since then.
Q: What qualifications did Matthew McNatt have to come up with this?
A: Matthew’s academic background in philosophy and learning theory were indispensable for creating the 8 Questions Process, which rests upon a detailed and rigorously fleshed-out philosophy.
Matthew also grew up with an autism-spectrum condition. He knows the challenges that many people with autism-spectrum conditions face from the inside out. He knows that techniques that work well for "neurotypical" people often don’t work so well for people with autism-spectrum conditions.
Matthew wanted a system for himself that would work 100% of the time. He knew it would benefit his clients with autism-spectrum conditions, too. Matthew's tireless pursuit of this goal, coupled with his unique approach and parents' feedback, produced the system he uses and teaches today. The 8 Questions are the core of that system.
How Do I Get Started?
If you would like to begin learning the 8 Questions, just give us a call. We'll be happy to discuss the process with you.
Alternatively, if you're not yet a client, you can set up an Initial Visit and Follow-up Consultation by clicking "Schedule" in the menu to the left. (If you'd like, you can click here to open the Scheduling screen in a new window, so you can see these instructions on one page and the scheduling screen on another.) Then, click "1-on-1 Services" and follow the on-screen instructions.
- Our scheduling system lets you schedule appointments, see all your scheduled appointments in one place and, if necessary, reschedule appointments—all from the comfort of your own home, any time day or night.
- All pricing information, policies, and procedures are shown on subsequent screens. You can verify that everything looks good before confirming your appointments. You're in control every step of the way.
If you're within driving distance from the learning center, are already a client, and are ready to begin scheduling, click "Scheduling" below to see a list of the appointments generally involved. You can schedule out as far as our online scheduling system will allow, or you can schedule as you go. Of course, the sooner and further out you schedule appointments, the more choice you have of days and times that work best for you.
Scheduling your own appointments helps you learn our online scheduling system, so you can use it if you ever need to reschedule appointments. Since our scheduling system is online, it's always accessible—and once you have an account, you never have to play phone tag to schedule with us!
Nevertheless, if you need assistance or would like us to schedule appointments for you, please feel free to give us a call.
Learning the 8 Questions is a process, and each appointment is important. Please schedule the appointments in order, and plan to make all of them on time.
Once you have an account, select "1-on-1 Services," and schedule the following appointments. Before confirming an appointment, please type the "Specific Agenda for Today" (SAT, below) in the field that says "Specific Agenda for Today" (on the scheduling screen):
- Integral Learning1-NOTE
SAT: "Goals, Necessities, and Benefits of Actions with Things."
- Integral Learning: Schedule for 1 or 2 weeks
SAT: "Creation + Aspects of Every Action"
- Phone Support: Schedule 2 days to 1 week
SAT: "Understanding the Process, Clarifying Expectations"
The 8 Questions
- Integral Learning: 1 or 2 weeks after #2,
(Numbers restart here.)
SAT: "Qualities of Every Action + Question 1"
- Phone Support: 2 days to 1 week after #1
SAT: "Answering Questions"
- Integral Learning: 1, 2, or 3 weeks after
SAT: "Approaches to Every Action + Question 2"
- Integral Learning: 4–14 days after #3
SAT: "Assumptions of Efficient Action + Question 3"
- Integral Learning: Ideally 1 week after #4
SAT: "Opportunities in Efficient Action + Question 4"
- Integral Learning: Ideally 1 week after #5
SAT: "Installations from Every Action + Question 5"
- Phone Support: 2 days to 1 week after #6
SAT: "Scheduling, Chores, & Rewards"
- Integral Learning: 1, 2, or 3 weeks after
SAT: "Reasons to Communicate"
- Integral Learning: Ideally 1 week after #8
SAT: "Repentance, Forgiveness, & Reconciliation"
- Integral Learning: 1 or 2 weeks after #9
SAT: "Needs Addressed by Every Action + Question 6"
- Integral Learning: 4–14 days after #10
SAT: "Beneficiaries of Every Action + Question 7"
- Integral Learning: 4–14 days after #11
SAT: "Audience of Every Action + Question 8"
- (Optional) Integral Learning: 2 days to 1
week after #12
SAT: "Diet & Supplements"
- Phone Support: 2–3 weeks after #12
Again, if you need assistance, please feel free to give us a call.
1 When scheduling, please choose a day of the week that often works best for you (e.g., Thursday), so you can schedule most of your future Integral Learning appointments on that day, too.
2 This isn't a typo. Scheduling 1, 2, or 3 weeks after your previous Integral Learning lesson (rather than phone support session) enables you to keep most appointments on the same day of the week.