The CURING power of CURIOSITY
To those of you out there who like to metaphorically (or perhaps literally) whip yourselves into shape, this is for you. I'm looking for the person who is harder on themselves than any outsider would ever think of being; the perfectionist with practically unattainable standards; and the person with self-talk that is harsher than your worst-enemy's secret thoughts about you... What if you, the hard worker, type A, over-thinker, could wonder your way into a life of both success AND freedom? What if you could attain all that you dream of and more while feeling more like you're moseying along on a carefree walk than sprinting anxiously from your fear of what you might not become. Perhaps it's that extra 10, 20, or 30lbs you want to lose, or that addiction you're wanting to quit. Have you ever stopped guilting yourself or forcing yourself into diets or routines that you absolutely hate long enough to be curious about what might be some healthy things you actually WANT to incorporate?
I won't call it the secret to success, because quite frankly I'm not entirely certain it will work for you (or anyone else besides me) but I will tell you this...I certainly am CURIOUS about how a little gentle curiosity added into everyone's life might help.
Here are the top 5 things I like to be curious about
and the results of how these curiosities have transformed my life:
1. Curious About My Partner/My Spouse - "I wonder when my partner got really upset, if he/she might have something stressful going on that they haven't dealt with?" "I wonder if he/she feels insecure or afraid sometimes and would feel comfortable sharing with me?" "I wonder if we can work together to create a plan to reach each of our goals in the relationship?"
Results: When I learned not to internalize mishaps or wrongdoings, and be gently curious about what difficulty my partner might be facing, I stopped being defensive and became equipped to better support my partner in their pain and discomfort. When I did that, I got what I really wanted out of our relationship which was connection.
2. Curious About My Kids - "I wonder if he/she feels like they can't get anything right when I am correcting or trying to help guide them so often?" "I wonder if they feel embarrassed because they think I might have never struggled with their same challenges?" "I wonder if I can be vulnerable to share with them some of my personal fears or embarrassments?"
Results: I became less harsh and more compassionate as I modeled vulnerability and remembered some of the struggles I had at my kid's age. My child listened to me and showed surprise as I shared things that were uncomfortable to share about my own embarrassing or difficult experiences. My child and I were able to establish a connection and a relationship that actually made my parental guidance more effective without being harsh, controlling, or demanding.
3. Curious About My Habits and My Physique - "I wonder if I could replace one meal per week with a salad?" "I wonder if I could do one workout per week?" "Even if I don't finish, I wonder if I could run part of a mile and walk the rest?" "I wonder if I could do 50 push ups in sets of 5 or 10?" "I wonder if I could replace soda with a healthier drink, and then I wonder if I could replace that drink with water?"
Results: I became energized by what I discovered about myself. I learned that I actually COULD do those things and I was very pleased, motivated, and ready to be curious about what else I might be able to do.
4. Curious About My Career Path - "I wonder if this is where I will stay forever?" "I wonder if there are some transferrable skills that I am learning?" "I wonder if I can challenge myself to do more and learn more?" "I wonder what would be involved in a healthier work/life balance and what some of my steps might be to get there?"
Results: My career became a delight. I enjoyed learning, growing, and investing in both myself and others, as I wondered at what might be improved. I paid attention to how I felt when small achievements were made and I felt continually motivated to be curious about new things whether I met a road block or achieved a new gain.
5. Curious About Myself - "I wonder where I'll be in 10 years?" "Where do I want to be, and what might help me get there?" "I know I have a difficult time with anxiety, I wonder if there's an underlying challenge from childhood or another life experience that I haven't fully processed?" "I wonder if I can tackle things in my life that I feel stuck in just one at a time?" "What is most urgent or even easiest that I might be able to tackle first?"
Results: I spent time being present with myself and I actually learned there was a lot of good perspectives inside myself that had been overrun with negative self talk. When I stopped talking down to myself and became curious with myself, I felt motivated, encouraged and I began accomplishing things that I never knew I could.
What is it in your life that you spend time beating yourself up about? Have you been trying to whip yourself into shape for years with no real progress? Would it be possible, instead of trying to bust through road blocks, to find other unexplored paths with really great experiences along the way. Can you find new excitement and ease in making progress as you surprise yourself; rather than pressure and negativity as you press down on yourself for no good reason? My hope is that you find your unique curiosities to be as life-changing as mine have been.