I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.
As we grow older with more experiences under our belt, our emotional palette becomes quite rich & complex. We have so many feelings that we can feel on their own or in combination. Take a look at examples of “feeling wheels”and be amazed at the richness and diversity of the emotions listed (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=feeling+wheel+chart+coaching&t=iphone&iax=images&ia=images). Some of the most challenging experiences we have in life give us the gift of being human by allowing us to feel many of these emotions.
Along the way, we can forget about some of these feelings we have at our disposal, the ones that allow us to grow and understand ourselves better. We sometimes only see the “coarse” or general emotions, like anger or sadness. Digging down into these emotions can reveal subtle nuances and help us to better understand our experiences. I’d like to reintroduce you to one of these feelings that you might want to get familiar with again.
When my last relationship ended, there was definitely a period of grief that I needed to go through. I wasn’t consciously thinking about that at the time, but reflecting back on it now, it was extremely important to allow myself to go through all those feelings of loss, of unworthiness, of lack & self-judgement. They allowed me the time to better understand myself, to grow and to change my stories & beliefs.
In more recent times with triggers in my professional life, similar intense feelings of insecurity brought on by self-judgement, and expectations would stop me in my tracks. In these instances, other feelings like anger, resentment and disengagement would make it challenging for me to know where to begin to get through these periods.
Many of us have had the experience of trying to console a child who is distraught by something that they’ve just experienced. Even if you haven’t experienced it firsthand, maybe you’ve witnessed this. There’s a quality that kids have that amazes me and reminds me of a way to learn from my own experiences. In the midst of the tears and sobbing, you’ll often hear them ask the simple question “But, why?”.
Children have the benefit of seeing things with new eyes. They slowly amass experiences and understanding of their world. Curiosity is one of their biggest strengths. They are always learning, unafraid to try new things. It may not be highest in priority when they’re seeking out consolation, but that curiosity even manages to reveal itself in those times.
As we get older, our emotional makeup becomes quite layered & complex. In my own life, I’ve seen how I would put more emphasis on pivoting away from a particular experience to simply move on, to forget or to distract myself with something new. I’m very thankful that I’ve rediscovered the benefits from being curious and asking myself those harder “why?” questions.
Every experience we have is the opportunity to learn something new. It’s very important to honour, respect and to thoroughly feel our emotions in the moment, but during this process I hope you also make some space for curiosity. Some of our most powerful emotions, like rage, can spur us into action for something we passionately believe in. Curiosity, though, is like the quiet observer that nods along in understanding, but then raises their hand to ask a very simple, poignant question – what are you going to learn from this?
Why am I actually feeling angry at this person? Why am I feeling sad in this moment? Once I had given myself the space to feel what I was experiencing, being curious in these situations opened the door to reflecting on the real causes of my feelings in a safe, mindful and accepting manner. I would come to realize that I’m not angry at this person, but instead that I’m feeling a lack of understanding or trust, and with regards to trust, that I must trust myself first. I might have felt sadness in the moment from a sense of grief & loss, but the root was in believing in a sense of lack or my own unworthiness.
Curiosity can disarm you and snap you out of a tailspin because it encourages you to become an observer of your own situation. It gives you the benefit of looking at a situation from a completely different angle mindfully. It can be challenging at first to adopt this perspective, but not only does it become easier the more you practice it, it truly does become an effective way to stop the “monkey chatter” & spinning voices that can overwhelm our thought processes. Curiosity can really become like play!
So, the next time you experience a trigger or perhaps a setback that didn’t align with your expectations, try to take a moment, breathe, smile and adopt a mindset of curiosity. You’ll be amazed at what you might learn about yourself. Thank you for your time that you’ve given to reading this – I hope it has helped you look at things from a slightly different perspective and will encourage you to be curious.