On Curiosity

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All of us have something to give others that is exactly what they need. It doesn’t cost a thing, it’s an ever-replenishing resource, and it’s one of the most healing agents we can offer another human being. It’s our curiosity.

Okay, maybe sometimes, it does cost something. When we aren’t feeling curious at all in a charged relationship, it may cost us our ego pride to let go of needing to be right and become curious instead. In those instances, it also costs us some effort, because we might have to do a little work to get there. But when we hold the intention to get curious, curiosity is always available to us. And always worth the effort.  

Curiosity is a marker of emotional neutrality. If you’re genuinely curious about another person, you’re de facto not judgmental. De facto, not reactive. You’re neutral. And while curiosity is a symptom of emotional neutrality, it’s also the avenue for getting there. Which (provided your goal is to be psychologically and emotionally healthy in a given relationship) is where you want to be. Cultivating emotional neutrality does not mean becoming a lobotomized robot. It means existing in present time, in the now, with another person. Versus being sucked into reactions based on your history, your habitual stories, dynamics that control you versus you having choice or any say over who and how you want to be.  

If you can’t muster curiosity about the other person in a particular moment, get curious about yourself. What is going on in here? Inside this whirling reactive hurt or angry cyclone that at the moment is me? Inside this shut down closed off fortress I have built? Getting curious about the body can be a great place to start. It’s an effective way to get out of the repetitive cycles that tend to go on in the mind. What is happening in my body? Where do I feel intensity, or numb? Can I focus on my breath for a moment here, and breathe a little more deeply? Calming the body can lead us into the ability to get curious about what is going on in our mind. The stories we tell ourselves, and believe without question: that’s precisely where we need to bring on the questions! Is there another way to see this situation instead of the way I always do? Is it possible that the way I am experiencing this might be optional? Could I shift just a little bit and open up to a new perspective?

Getting curious about yourself is bestowing that healing agent upon the human being you happen to hang out with 24/7. For that reason alone, it’s highly recommended. But also, getting curious about self in a charged relational moment can shift the dynamic with the other person, precisely because it takes you out of the dynamic. And hopefully, through managing self, you can calm down enough to get curious about the other. And maybe even start to ask them some questions. About how they’re doing. About what is going on for them.

Not just any question will do. I think we can all agree that “What the hell is wrong with you?” doesn’t exactly convey curiosity. But, “Tell me more about why you think that?” “What do you need right now?”, “What can I do for you?”, these are the kinds of questions which transmit the curiosity that melts armor. That opens hearts. That heals.

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