”Never lose a holy curiosity.” – Albert Einstein
Are you going on with your ”normal life” while the pain of a toxic relationship with your mother tears you apart.
You keep on putting one foot in front of the other like a zombie, not dead but not living either. Barely hanging on, gasping for a breath of fresh air.
And all you want is to be free to live your life and be happy.
Keeping the status quo may feel safe right now. Even if it’s bad, you know what’s going to happen. However, in the long run, you risk losing yourself and become stuck in the same routine, where you play the same old part someone else chose for you. Scary?
However, change can feel terrifying, too, although for a different reason. You see, every change implies uncertainty. And uncertainty is an anxious creature who will scream “Danger!” with her piercing voice until every cell in your body is feeling an urge to fight, hide or freeze.
Is there another way?
Let me show you.
Did curiosity kill the cat?
Curiosity might have killed that poor kitty, but it saved me, and here’s how.
Like all humans, I was born curious, eager to explore that giant new world I just met. What a marvellous excitement of a developing mind shines in the eyes of that little girl on the old photo taken by my dad.
Later on, I learned that curiosity could cause pain. “Stop playing with food and stay quiet for God's sake!” and “do you must touch everything you see?” – My mom needed me to be predictable and quiet. So I turned my eyes inside instead, wondering why mummy was angry with me.
Mum’s changing moods and headaches dominated our lives. Over time, I nearly forgot how to be curious, honing mastery of obedience in a good girls school.
But curiosity is like a smell of freshly baked bread – ones you sensed it, you will never forget. All you need is a reminder.
Before I tell you more, let’s see what curiosity is about.
What is curiosity?
Curiosity is the desire to know more, to explore and learn what we don’t know yet, but what makes us feel wondering and excited, wanting to learn.
Like a 4-year-old kid testing her parent’s patience with 70 plus questions a day! Oh, you have one of your own? Then you don’t need to purchase any of the brain fitness apps.
Curiosity and open-mindedness brought to life many discoveries. It’s what took people on ships in search of other lands when the prevailing belief had been that the Earth is flat and Cap di Finisterra is as far as people could get.
“Curiosity is the key. Curiosity propels you forward. Curiosity drives you to shift your perspective, be open to change, and overcome obstacles. Curiosity leads to breakthrough thinking!”
- André van Hall Professional Speaker & Curiosity Instigator-
“Curiosity is the key. Curiosity propels you forward. Curiosity drives you to shift your perspective, be open to change, and overcome obstacles. Curiosity leads to breakthrough thinking!” – André van Hall Professional Speaker & Curiosity Instigator
Let’s see what teaming up with curiosity can do for you.
What curiosity is good for?
Here’re just a few areas where being curious helps you to live a happier life.
Curiosity compels you to learn.
All those questions buzzing in your head – they urge you to search for answers. So you open a notebook, go to the library or call people who may know what you need. Learning about things is the first step before making decisions and setting up goals.
What is it that I don’t know about [my family] yet?
What do I need to change to feel better about [my current situation]?
Why is [Mum] behaving this way?
Are there other families with similar problems or just us?
What can I do to feel (safer)?
According to research, curiosity enhances memory and makes it easier to learn.
Let your curiosity become a primo motor in the process of changing, shifting, learning and becoming who you want to be.
And it is possible because…
Curiosity changes your brain.
Yes, your brain is wired in a specific way as the result of your life experiences, but its structure is not final or static. It’s dynamic, so you can change it not just through learning new stuff about the universe, but also by adapting new ways of relating to other people. And that includes your mother.
Which takes us to the next point.
Curiosity mends relationships.
Have you ever wondered why your mother is the way she is? How was it to be her when she was a little girl, or what are your triggers?
Curiosity helps us to put down judgement and build closer relationships with other people based on empathy and understanding. Because curiosity about other people is a precursor to empathy. It enables you to imagine possible thoughts going through another person's mind, to feel what they may feel and move from distant and cool to warmer and closer relationships with others.
Curiosity is a precursor to empathy.
However, when we lose curiosity, we also make assumptions and jump to conclusions. We judge and criticize other’s ways of thinking and behaving, creating negative vibes. And guess what? These negative vibrations return to us like boomerangs; and, as a result we all feel crappy.
But what happens if we change the filters we use to look at the world, from judgemental to respectful?
Just for ones, try to understand what another person might try to do or feel what she is experiencing. You would find amazing sides of people, you didn’t know existed. Use curiosity as your guide!
Curiosity and excitement minimize fear of change.
Imagine what your life will be when you go through the change. When you become a person, you chose to be, got it?
You stand tall and make your own decisions. You are present and calm, focused on what’s important to you. You know how to behave and what to say in situations that make you miserable now.
Isn’t this possibility of a new, happier life not exciting? Curiosity puts us on the path, and excitement keeps us going.
At some point in my life, I started to wonder about other ways of living – would that be possible to create a better life for my son and me? To pursue my curiosity, I had to get out of my protecting shell to meet new people, learn languages and find the ways. I couldn't cut the bond of co-dependency yet, but I stretched it, making it thinner and more manageable. The excitement of what I learned kept me going and my fear of leaving everything behind became manageable.
We moved to Denmark, and although it didn’t solve all my problems, that decision helped me to conquer my chronic anxiety and set me on a path of living with joy.
How to strengthen your curiosity
Has your curiosity muscle become too weak?
Don’t worry, there’re ways to bring it back in shape.
Get curious on purpose over small things, every day a little bit. Feel it’s growing every time you notice a unique tree and wonder why it has roots looking like octopus tentacles billowing out of the ground?
Wonder who wrote the beautiful piece playing on the radio right now. Or what would happen if you change the tone of your voice – will people react differently to your message?
Go on and find out!
Challenge your thinking process through curiosity.
Get curious about the way you think. For example, change from “it’s too late” to “what else is here for me to find”. Or “I’m stuck with what I’ve got” and “nothing I can do” to “I’m going to challenge my brain and find the way” or “what else don’t I know?” You can learn more here.
Channel your curiosity.
In the age of information, the Internet and mobile devices, it’s easy to bounce from one subject to another. That might lead you nowhere, so learn to channel your curiosity on the subject of your present interest.
Set your goals.
“Understanding a problem doesn’t necessarily solve it.” – Heath and Chip
Get curious about the process. How do you want (and can) achieve your goal?
Ask yourself, “how might I actually do this?” and make a plan. Part of the reason self-questioning works is that it sparks your own curiosity! It gets your mind quickly, working on possible strategies and solutions to the challenge you face.
And if your brain is not-cooperative at the moment, use this questions to trick your grey cells into answer: "If I knew how to do it, where would I start?" 😎
Explore boring stuff.
Curiosity is a habit that we have to nurture. Getting curious about something you perceive as boring may help you get curios on purpose and learn things you would otherwise not notice.
Curiosity is the primo-motor of any development because it nudges you to learn and implement what you’ve learned.
Keep wondering and questioning, and you will get to see new opportunities and fresh ideas. Curiosity will help you overcome fears, broaden your thinking, expand your horizon and improve your relationships with other people.
Be Homo Curiousus, and your life will never be dull!
Have fun! 😉