Curiosity invites clarity


The other day, my mom, husband, and I were watching a movie. I started laughing at what was happening in the movie and both my mom and my husband were surprised. They were excited about what was happening, and I was struck with how funny the scene was carrying on longer than I thought necessary.

What I marveled at is how both my mother and my husband seemed so taken aback about my reaction. I couldn’t help but wonder what was so odd about me laughing. At first, I was thinking the same about them. What has them so struck by my laughter? And then I noticed I became upset wondering what was so wrong about my reaction.

These are critical times to get curious. Why? Because these are the seeds that can grow into unnecessary destructive thoughts. When we get curious, perspectives become clear. Asking questions without using the word why
as the first word in your sentence will help you and the person you are in communication with come to know each other’s perspective. Using the word why first, can cause a defensive response.

That evening, I said to my husband that I was so tired of feeling misunderstood. His response was that he was surprised that I was not enjoying the movie like he was, and it was as if I was mocking them for what they were enjoying.

The following day, we had a conversation again about our reactions. What he discovered for himself by getting curious about his own reaction was that he was enjoying the movie so much and me laughing about it was surprising. He realized that his discomfort was not really with my reaction to how I perceived the movie, rather, in-the-moment it struck him as odd simply because he was not having the same experience.

Notice how quickly perceptions can go sideways? In these moments we can be quickly disturbed by how someone else is reacting. Whether with speech, utterance, or a physical action, we are expressing an internal reaction. With maturity, we learn to withhold some initial reactions. And sometimes, we do not withhold because we are in-the-moment expressing something.

What about you? Does it matter so much to you what someone else may be experiencing? Are you easily offended when someone is not reacting the same way as you? How may you react differently in the future? Should everyone withhold laughter? Opinions? Who decides how one responds? You do! Furthermore, what we say and do does have an impact regardless of our unique experience.

So how does this story impact how you will interact with those in your home, business, or community?

Is it hard for you at times to accept how others go about their business? With everyone being unique and experiencing everything differently, rather than be quickly offended or disturbed, consider minding your own business, or genuinely and kindly be curious.

You can ask, “What were you experiencing during that part of the movie?” Or ask, “What was it that struck you so funny?” And genuinely care about what they have to say. Is it your business what they are experiencing? Try marveling at how we all approach and experience life. Add a generous portion of curiosity into your conversations and you may be surprised at how that becomes the special sauce you have been longing for all along. Notice how your relationships become more enthusiastic and interactive.

Just to elaborate on this a bit more to drive this whole curiosity idea deeper into your thought process, think about how much of your life you have spent always trying to achieve the right answers. This kind of programming locks us into right and wrong. In relationships, versus taking an exam, it is a whole new ballgame. From birth, survival techniques are established, and along your journey you develop ways to survive. Which becomes how you behave as an adult. Most adults learn that there are many behaviors they have adopted that do not quite cut the achievement gap when it comes to relationships. Adults start clamoring for a different way when they realize some of their behaviors are not quite matching up to their values. This quest for change drives them to become knowledgeable about a better way. They realize the only way to survive is to evaluate how they react to different situations. Over the years they realize their reactions are based on the many factors they have been subjected to and they learn how to overcome.

So as unique as you are, so are they and them and those! Do you ever see those signs at construction sites that say, Give ‘em a break? How about giving yourself a break and those around you? Start noticing when you are triggered and pause. Take some time later and get curious with yourself about why you reacted the way you did. It is okay to ask yourself why. And keep ask yourself why until you come to the final reason. You will find your truth. And be aware, it may not always bring up good memories. So be gentle with you and show yourself some empathy. It is all good. You are experiencing growth. Then show compassion to yourself and the person you thought was being disrespectful.

Did you compete in your family dynamics? What about at school? So many things play into how we all perceive. So, how about consider changing your ways. Do you want the right answer or the right relationships? Having the right answer can be rewarding in the right setting. What right answers do you want? Be aware of whether you are seeking the right answer or ready to be curious. Notice what your own ideas and perspectives are related to your expectations of team members, housemates, or even how you react to anything or anyone. Alternatively, being curious opens our experiences up to an abundance of perspectives beyond our individual locked-in ideas. Curiosity opens and allows freedom to explore how others perceive rather than a right way or a wrong way. A release forms. Peace becomes.

Developing this mindset takes practice. It also takes energy to reform your mind and adhere to a focus enriched with curiosity. Over time we all establish norms for ourselves that help us navigate daily living. It is not easy moving through time. And a simple example of how we react to each other when even just watching a movie may be a step in the direction of being curious for the sake of loving how someone else may be experiencing their world differently than you.

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