Humans are relational creatures. If you think about our evolution, our survival has been linked to our connections with others - our tribe. I believe we all crave close connections with others, but we are not always able to get that profound emotional connection, even in our closest relationships.
Have you ever felt deeply lonely, even when surrounded by family or friends? Do you find yourself sharing surface level niceties while craving deeper connection? You are not alone in this. True emotional intimacy is not easy or even logical. Often times we may find that we don't know HOW to connect with others in the way we want to. We may even find that we're not so sure how to connect to ourselves.
What then, are the tools of connection? How do we foster deeper relationships with others or ourselves? There is really one tool I find myself coming back to again and again in my own life and with my clients - curiosity.
Curiosity is the antidote to judgement. It is the antidote to assumptions and the cure for same old stories. Without it, something happens and we 'know' why. It's because I'm not good enough. It's because he's being a jerk. It's because they're an (insert group of people we disagree with). With curiosity, we are invited to pause and question - I wonder what that feels like for you? Or for me? We are invited deeper into any experience by wondering about it.
Curiosity isn't an easy practice at first - especially because most of us like to 'know' things and get answers. We want to know why this is happening (usually so we can control it and keep it from happening again, right? No? Ok..just me then.) Curiosity is the space of no answers and ever more deepening questions and that can be infuriating, anxiety producing or bring up a host of other emotions. The trick is to get curious about those emotions, too. Not why is this happening, but how is this happening.
Why looks for a reason, how looks for a process. That makes how a much more powerful question to answer. A reason only fits one particular experience. But a process...a process likely repeats itself in many different areas of your life. If you can get curious and understand more of your own processes, you suddenly open up many more choices that weren't there before.
If you're curious about bringing more curiosity into your life. I offer you some starting questions. Find one or two you connect to the most and try to employ them on a daily basis to see if you can tap into more connection to yourself and those you care about.
Starting with you...
What's happening in my body right now? Am I breathing? Where is there tension? Am I holding something in?
What do I want right now? Care? Reassurance? Validation? Space?
What action or experience might give me the thing I want? Is there something I can do? Something I can ask my partner/friend/family member to support me with? Is there a way that it is easier for me to take in the experience I want? (Understanding your Love Language can be helpful here)
Is what I want possible to get? Can the experience I want really come from the outside? Or is it a product of my own thoughts or emotional experience?
How can I be with what is and let it be ok? Sometimes we can't change things in the moment - can we give ourselves permission to feel them?
Questions for others....
What does ____ mean to you? What does space or respect or support mean to the person asking for it?
How could I show you _____? How would this person feel the thing they want? How would they take it in?
Is there something I could do that would support you right now? It's tempting to think that when we know someone well, we know how to help them when they need us. But what if we didn't know? What would it be like to ask them?
In my mind, the process of therapy is the ultimate process of engaging curiosity. Together with a therapist, you dive down the rabbit hole of your own processes as an individual, or your repeating cycles as a couple. When you come to understand how you do things, you are able to explore other paths that may reach the same end goal. Interested in exploring more with the support of someone? Reach out and let's see if we can get curious together.