We are all born naturally curious with a basic need to discover, learn and grow. This is evident in childhood, when we learn how to stand up, we take off running towards the unknown. As soon as we can talk our enquiring minds are full of curiosity with endless questioning of What is this? What does it do? How does it work?
Curiosity is a trait of those wanting to learn more about life. Over the course of our life span this curiosity can lead us down many paths and avenues leading to wondrous discoveries and sometimes dead ends. As a result, we get to try new experiences, explore new places and meet new people all by opening up our life to discovery mode. This leads us to enhance our understanding and gain new perspectives outside of our otherwise limits. We get to try our curiosity out on many experiences. If we like it we can come back for more , if not we can move on.
I associate curiosity with an inherent need for exploration to be present in my life. Sometimes that leads to big life changing adventures, other times those adventures are on the micro level. Always curiosity takes me out of my comfort zone to new places. It could lead to an adrenaline rush at the top of a mountain or at a more relaxed pace it might be trying out a new dish at a restaurant. Whatever speed you apply to curiosity depends on how interested you are in finding out what there is to experience. Whether you are head first into it or timidly tiptoeing, it is always taking you towards trying something different.
In its full force curiosity has taken me to start a new life in a new country, more than once. For instance, I relocated from Ireland to Switzerland because I followed my curiosity to experience and explore different ways of living. I didn’t speak the language and didn’t know a soul there. Not knowing how it would turn out fuelled my innate desire to try. I found a job and moved with an open timeline, figuring I would stay as long as I needed to without putting limits on the duration.
This frame of mind of being open to see how it goes is comforting to me. It serves to reassure me that I have a choice to stay or leave depending on what the circumstances bring and how I feel about them. My time in Switzerland turned out to be a full 7 year cycle. During this time I got to experience the highs of falling in love and getting married, followed by the lows of getting divorced.
What I have learnt in my curiosity driven life, is that being curious is actually good for my mental well-being. Being curious becomes a mindful practice. It works like this; when we are in a stage of curiosity, we are being in the moment with life, experiencing the now. Being in curiosity mode means being present where judgement is absent.
By entering a beginner’s mindset we use questions to figure out how things could work. We can apply trial and error and see how it turns out, just like an experiment. By being curious we create openness to new possibilities and ways of being. We learn something about ourselves in the process.The benefit of being curious is that we are open to experience what may come without knowing how it will turn out.
When we stop being curious, we close ourselves off to those possibilities. Being curious means, we are embracing the unknown and we are open to trusting the outcome. In order to be truly curious and see where it may lead, we need to be able to ease into the unknown. This means relaxing into it, letting go of the anxiety and surrendering to the outcome. It is releasing control, it is unpredictable, it is stepping into new territory and trusting that you will emerge all the better for it.
At what point do we stop listening to our curiosity and disconnect from discovery? Typically, it is when we experience a setback in life. When life feels overwhelming, too demanding or chaotic and we become exhausted from the overload. We experience anxiety to let go and welcome in change. Whatever the reason we can lose the yearning to get into discovery mode, preferring to stay in familiar territory. We put more reliance on our routine and slowly lose our connection to the essence of being curious.
I have been there, when my marriage was over the overwhelming sense of failure was oppressive. No matter where else in my life I was successful my career or in other relationships, because I could not get my marriage to work, I felt a huge sense of shame in my failure. Looking back now I do not feel that way.
At the time this was my state of mind. I could not see then how my life would turn out and that because of my divorce I would move to New York to start a wondrous new chapter. What got me past this setback in my life was my need to explore what else was out there. Even if I didn’t know what that would look like, I had faith that it would be better than staying in my misery.
Brene Brown, the famous research Professor on courage and vulnerability, says that curiosity is an act of vulnerability and courage. We need to be brave enough to want to know more. At the heart of daring is a deeply human truth that is rarely acknowledged: Courage and fear are not mutually exclusive. Most of us feel brave and afraid at the exact same time. We feel vulnerable.
When we embrace curiosity, we accept not knowing how it will turn out. The unknown can be exhilarating or terrifying. We get to choose what lens we see it through. The feeling of excitement to experience the unknown is empowering. It may turn out that the experience was so positive that you can’t wait to do it again. Before the experience you weren’t even aware it was possible to be so energized and so alive. Even if afterwards you think, I will never do that again, there is a power in the knowing that you found this out because you tried it.
When things don’t work out as expect or hope, it can be difficult to deal with that outcome. It can be a setback in our lives, we often judge ourselves harshly and see ourselves as a failure. We become our own worst critic and this sense of failure becomes debilitating, causing us to close ourselves off to the willingness to try again. When we turn away from embracing the unknown, we shut ourselves off to the sense of possibility to foster trust and hope in the future.
If we listen to our inner critic, we typically hear a negative voice causing us to doubt ourselves. By examining why that negative channel exists, we can come to realise it is an attempt by an anxious part of our psyche to keep us safe by staying in our comfort zone.
Consider this for yourself, maybe something happened earlier in life when you tried something new and it didn’t work out. The experience evoked a painful feeling of disappointment, shame, fear or anger. A part of you became conditioned to not want to repeat the same emotional response again. You learn to retreat from those unknown experiences to avoid the same reaction.
So how do we overcome fear to be courageous to lead a curiosity filled life? Becoming aware of the inner warning mechanism is the first step to liberating this fear. You might feel this in your body as a sensation. A knot in the pit of your stomach perhaps? A tension in the chest area, an ache in your legs? This bodily sensation has a message for you. Acknowledge the sensation and wonder what it is trying to tell you. See it as the messenger it is trying to be. Learn what it wants to say to you. It may simply serve as a caution to take care & not to put yourself at risk or in danger. Listen to that and reassure yourself that you will take safety measures to avoid harm.
What else might be there? Listen in to what may emerge. Allow the more courageous part of you to come forward. Feel in your body for signs of excitement about how curiosity can enhance your life. Let those sensations come forth. Relax into being with whatever shows up. Thank your body for the wisdom it is sharing. Let it know that you have a value on bringing curiosity into your life and that you want to cultivate it more.
Once we cultivate a curious approach to our own life, we become willing to embrace the unknown and we open ourselves up to wondrous possibilities. Our drive to experience the unknown awakens us to discover who we are at our core and what feeds our souls. Getting over fear of the unknown is the path to freedom. It is here that we can learn to trust ourselves, build resilience, discover joy, reenergise and be immersed in the experience of aliveness.
If we can reframe from thinking of what is the worst that can happen to what if was better than I imagined or hoped for? Then, we can trust that whatever happens we can figure out how handle it. Thus we can open ourselves up to experience new ways of being with joy, happiness and freedom.
Reflecting on my own international adventure, I see curiosity has led me to have countless wondrous experiences; move to new places; work in different companies; grow into new roles with increasing responsibility; acquire new skills and certifications; change careers; travel the world; make amazing friends from different cultures and beliefs that became like family to me.
I feel blessed to have embraced my curiosity to shape who I have become. Embarking on the next chapter of my life I am filled with gratitude for having faith in myself to follow my curiosity. I am excited to see where following my soul purpose and living on the west coast of Ireland will take me next.
Following your Soul purpose means to experience the unknown, to learn, to grow, to discover your passions, to enrich, to fuel yourselves. We all have a soul purpose we come into this world with. Spark your curiosity to discover your soul purpose and embark on an amazing journey of self-discovery.
If you are curious to learn more about how finding your soul purpose can lead to a more fulfilled life, follow me on social media, join my mailing list and contact me directly at Claire@thelifeandsoulcoach.com