Have you ever said Yes to doing something when your whole body and mind was screaming No? You end up doing it but you feel little joy and maybe even resentment because you never wanted to do it in the first place. And then you get mad at yourself for saying Yes – so not only are you doing something you don’t want to do, you are also angry with yourself for doing it!
Or have you ever felt jealous of a friend or family member – someone you love and only want the best for? And then you not only feel jealous, but you also feel other things – guilt, shame, anger. Again, it’s the double whammy of the uncomfortable feeling AND feeling bad about yourself for thinking/feeling those things.
These are situations that are common to all of us, whether we admit it or not. And when we don’t admit it, these feelings usually end up coming to the surface anyway – and usually not in the prettiest of ways – like bullying, passive aggressiveness, pushing people away, being irritated & grouchy etc.
When we ignore the situations themselves or the feelings of shame, guilt, anger that they might bring up in us, we lose a powerful opportunity for learning. As soon as we start feeling something we perceive as negative or less than pretty, we start judging ourselves for it. And instead of allowing judgment to take over, we have another choice here – we can bring in our powerful ally of Curiosity.
Ms. Curiosity is extremely wise and open. She doesn’t judge at all. All she wants to do is get more information – like a traveler soaking up all the beautiful sights and facts about a new foreign land. Ms. Curiosity likes to ask a lot of questions – so she can fully understand and see what gems might lie beneath the surface.
Let’s take a concrete example: If you find yourself always saying yes to something, the next time you do it, invite in your Curiosity Ally. She might sound something like the…”Wow, look at that. I said yes even though I know it’s not what I want to do. Hmmm…what was that all about? Why did I say yes when I wanted to say no?” And then get quiet and listen to the answer. It might be that you felt put on the spot or you didn’t want to disappoint someone or you wanted to want to do it, but you just didn’t and you didn’t have a ‘good excuse’ to say no.
And underneath that gem of an answer, there might be more questions to ask. The idea is to not make yourself wrong and not judge the feelings, but to investigate them with curiosity. When you have more information and when you take the judgment away, it’s a lot easier to come up with a new behavior or a new thought for next time. Judgment shuts us down to new ideas, while curiosity opens us up to doing things in a way that might serve us better and help us move more in the direction we want to go.
Play with Curiosity this week. If you do, say or feel something that seems ‘wrong’ look at it with Curious eyes instead of judging it as ‘bad’. Know that this is just more information for you to explore and learn from. Notice what it feels like as you judge less and are more Curious. Share any insights, thoughts, questions in the Reply box below.