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Are You Curious or Critical?
I shared the other day about my morning with the dropsies and what I need to do for myself when I find myself with a case of the dropsies. I have found it easy in the past — and to be honest, I still do at times — to become critical of myself when this happens. I can get harsh and judgmental with myself when I’m making mistakes, even minor ones.
A practice that I am working with is how to be curious rather than critical. There’s a HUGE and significant difference between curiosity and critique, and I’ve found that the former supports me in innumerable ways while the latter keeps me stuck.
In the case of the dropsies, it was far more supportive to pause and get curious about why I was dropping, running into, and spilling things. I could have also said to myself: “Get it together. What is wrong with you? You are such a klutz. You don’t have time to be making so many mistakes.”
It’s not that those harsh comments no longer run through my head at times, but that rather than going down that path and beating myself up, it’s far more productive and supportive for me to get curious about why I am having so many accidents.
The curiosity is what led me to understand that I needed to rest; that I had been pushing myself too hard for a few days. This curiosity allowed me to tune in to what I needed and make space for that rather than pushing myself because of being critical.
This is an example of where curiosity over critique supported me.
How might curiosity support you as you navigate these challenging times? Curiosity both for yourself and for others?
Curiosity is open. It helps with progress. It is loving and accepting and kind.
Critique can be harsh. It can blame. It can stop you from moving forward.
How might you invite curiosity...
...when you find yourself thinking you are lazy and don’t care enough about your health because you ordered delivery for the second time this week? Perhaps you can be curious about why that was the best option for you at the moment. It may help you to realize that you’ve been working a lot of unpaid, overtime hours and haven’t prioritized getting to the grocery store. You’ve been nervous about not working those hours because you’ve seen co-workers let go and are concerned about losing your job. You realize that you need to talk to your partner or kids about helping with meal planning and preparation.
...when you find yourself being critical of your neighbor because they aren’t keeping up with their yard maintenance? Perhaps curiosity would lead you to learn that they are having to take care of their three children who are not in school right now because of COVID-19 and that their lawn mower is out of commission and they just don’t have the energy to fix it.
...when you get down on yourself for not producing as much content as you usually do? You start to tell yourself that you’re not a good writer or that you’ve lost the ability to write anything worth a damn. Curiosity might lead you to recognize that you haven’t been meditating and that when you don’t meditate you don’t have the clarity you need to write well. It might also lead you to recognize that your normal creative flow with writing first thing in the morning has been blocked because all of the routines in your household are different now and when you would typically write is when you are now having to get your kids organized for their day of online or home schooling. This recognition might then allow you to realize that getting up 30 minutes earlier is the just-right-for-now solution you need or that perhaps you want to see what it feels like to write in the evening after things have settled down. Curiosity might have led you to an even better way of creating than you had before.
When you find yourself judging or being harsh or blaming, could you take a pause and get curious?
Ask yourself: What might be going on? What haven't I realized yet? What is different? How did I get here? What might be possible?
Curiosity is a beautiful thing. It’s a gift we can give to better understand ourselves and others. Prepare to be amazed at what you can learn when you get curious rather than critical.