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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Where Does Being Curious Get You? (And Barometers of Emotional Health)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Where Does Being Curious Get You? (And Barometers of Emotional Health)

So this question comes up a lot here in the office, probably because I'm a fan of curiosity.  Especially when it's a choice of being curious or being critical.  And especially when it comes to asking questions about ourselves and our motives.

There is an old saying that it's better to live in the solution than in the problem.  I think a lot of times we get stuck in the problem to such an extent that we cannot even begin to imagine that there is a solution or what that solution might be.  So that's where being curious gets you.  It gets you to start studying what's in the way of finding the way to the solution.   And it leads the way to something new, something different and hopefully something better.

People often ask me "What am I doing wrong?" Or "What's the matter with me?" Or "What's the matter with my partner that he or she can't or doesn't  (fill in the blank)?"  Or "Why me?"  Or "Why not me?"  So of course lots of the time these questions are understandable expressions of grief, sadness, frustration, anger, disappointment and more.  But sometimes they are more, or at least they can be more.  They can be the beginning of a good dialogue about what is really in the way of us finding out what we really want and how to get there, and how to heal, make progress and feel better. 

The key is that when we ask, we ask with curiosity and not self attack.  And we ask with an openness to study ourselves gently and sincerely and in a safe place where all feelings and thoughts are allowed to live and breathe and be.

A colleague of mine told me recently when I asked how she was: "If having all my feelings would be the barometer of health, then I'm doing fine." Her wisdom often resonates deeply with me, reflecting my own feelings in the most uncanny ways.  It seems to me that this self allowance and self acceptance, even when our feelings are difficult ones to bear, can be the torch light that opens us up to curiosity and helps us to just be, and of course, to grow.

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