Curious About Curiosity
- What are your early childhood messages about being curious?
‘Curiosity killed the cat’, ‘don’t be so nosy’, ‘don’t pry into other people’s business’, ‘it’s none of your business’, ‘asking personal questions is rude’. These are just a few of my childhood messages about curiosity.
Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic talks about how curiosity helped her write her novel The Signature of All Things. She describes how she had finished one book and didn’t have another in mind. So she started to garden and as she gardened she got curious about the plants she was planting. She developed this curiosity by finding out where they came from and what they needed to flourish. Eventually, her curiosity led her into the research for her novel.
Until I read this I had never really connected curiosity with creation. I had never understood how curiosity can lead us and guide us, like a compass rather than a map; we might not know where we will end up but we have something to steer by.
After the gestalt coaching demo at the Barefoot conference a lovely man came up to me to say thank you. He thanked me because I had said that I was curious about the people watching the demo, that I was curious about them. He said that when I had said I was curious, he had experienced it as a gift, something that made him feel good and feel valued.
I have never thought explicitly about how curiosity is a way of making contact. I had never thought of curiosity as a gift. Yet when I look back I see that in every coaching conversation I am curious about the person I am with. When I teach Psychology I am curious about what I am learning but I am more curious about what sense the students will make of it and use it.
My Nonna was curious. She always wanted to know everything and if she didn’t know, she would look it up. She was curious about the world, about people and about how often I had been to the toilet. I loved her. When I had my first boyfriend she quizzed me extensively about the relationship and to my delight also about sex. It was sooo nice to have someone so genuinely interested without an agenda or an idea of what I should or shouldn’t be doing.
When I am at my best I am curious. I am so curious about who my children are growing up to be. It is exciting to watch them unfold and develop styles and tastes and opinions of their own. I am curious about P and what makes him tick. I am curious about myself and what goes on with me. I am curious about the world.
When I am being curious I am being open rather than having expectations. I am being interested rather than judgemental. I am being fluid rather than fixed. I am trusting rather than controlling.
I don’t feel curious when I am defensive, scared, feeling threatened, overwhelmed, bored or stressed.
I am able to be curious when I am rested, nurtured, have had time to myself and when my head is clear.
Curiosity allows me to see people as they are right now, in the moment, without expectation, it allows me to be more playful with life and it allows me to create and follow where those creations take me. Curiosity set the cat free.
- What are you curious about?
- When are you at your most curious?
- How does curiosity support you in your life?