If only my parents / boss / partner / children would stop / start / try / remember…
Everyone has some version of an "if only" statement: Something life-changing that seems sort of…out of reach. A stressor that if resolved, would make everything (or at least, a lot of the things) all better.
Now imagine for a moment, that while you are asleep tonight, a miracle happens! You don't know about it, of course - because you are asleep (hopefully). But your problem, your 'if only', has been fixed. Just like that.
In the morning, what will be the first thing that tells you a miracle has occurred?
Imagine the sounds, sights, and feelings. What do you notice? How are you different?
This is the Miracle Question. Drawn from a Solutions-Focused approach to therapy, the Miracle Question is a kind of 'thought-experiment' which asks us to imagine a different future. It asks us to free ourselves for just a moment, from 'impossibilities' or hopelessness; and to think about how our life looks without this problem.
But how does pretending a miracle has happened help? The problem still exists. So, doesn't that just make us feel worse?
The key is the way the Miracle Question gets us to imagine the miracle experience in close detail. It focuses our attention on after the problem is resolved; jumping straight into the way life feels if the stressor or stressors have been dealt with.
For example, suppose you are weighed down by a very stressful family situation over which you have no control – it would be a miracle if this just resolved or disappeared, right? "If I didn't wake up with a knot in my stomach, I might think a miracle had occurred", you say. This tells us that waking up each day free of the physical symptoms of stress might be a reasonable goal. It might be complicated to fix the family situation if your family are not on board with fixing it – but there are ways you can independently work to overcome a knotted, stressful stomach. You get to wake up without a knot in your stomach, after all.
From here, it is much easier to devise goals that support your future life - the one you live after the Miracle has happened. It's a little hypnotic and requires a little creativity. And you may need support to work out how to achieve the goals you identify. But now that you've been able to decide what you want and visualise it clearly, you will be in the best position of all to achieve it.
"Miracles are like pimples because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you'd see."
― The Lump of Coal