If I flip out, as I sometimes, um, rarely, do, could it be that this was too close to home?
barely gotten over the buzzwords from last year when I ventured upon a new one.
Last year I was slipping “off-shoring,” “tipping point,” and “synergy” into my vernacular. But it was starting to sound forced and starting to get old when I came across a new catchy phrase.
Every shiur or podcast I listened to told me to be “curious.”
At first, I was surprised. I associate that concept with a little monkey wrapped in piles of pasta or eating a puzzle piece. The word curious didn’t really bring up many positive vibes for me, especially when you consider that curiosity killed the cat.
The more I listened, however, the more I realized that the word curious is being used nowadays in a totally different context. Take the man with the yellow hat out of the picture and you have a plain old adjective, defined as eager to know or learn something.
I understood that when someone is overreacting to something I said, I should approach the situation with curiosity: Might this be a trigger from the past that is coming up?
And for me as well… if I flip out, as I sometimes, um, rarely, do, could it be that this was too close to home? Was it reminding me of something I have strong feelings about?
I’m told by experts to approach my young child’s infractions with curiosity. This is probably the way to go because much of what my kids do stymies me. Many of their actions seem random or thoughtless. (Ketchup in the tub, I’m looking at you.) Could there actually be a thought process behind it?
This novel idea about approaching things with curiosity, if I’m reading between the lines correctly, means that I’m skipping the J word.
I see her exaggerated response to my mild comment and I don’t judge her reaction. Instead, I approach it with curiosity. Could she be having an exceptionally hard day and this was just the straw that broke the camel’s back? Could she possibly have read too deeply into my innocuous comment and gotten insulted? Could this be bringing back pain from her past?
As for me, well, I flip out when my husband did xyz. It wasn’t all that bad, so what was with my Broadway-worthy response? I apologize, and then I skip the shame game and analyze why I overreacted.
I discover that my kid never drank his breakfast cup of milk. Instead, he dumped it in the sink and it was the last of the milk in the house. Before I jump on the “Is he turning into a sneaky kid?” bandwagon, I can approach the situation with curiosity.
If I’m indeed approaching everything with curiosity, my tone will be mild, and his reaction will reflect that.
“I can’t believe you just did that! I could have saved that milk for Daddy’s coffee and you wasted it for no reason!” doesn’t show my best side.
“I’m wondering why you decided to dump your milk down the sink” makes me sound rational and ready to hear what he has to say.
One of my mantras lately has been, “Cut the drama,” because I tend to inhale dramatically and generally huff and puff with flared nostrils and raised eyebrows when Things Happen Not To My Liking. Perhaps this gentle curiosity can help me with that. Maybe I’ll only raise my eyebrows half an inch instead of my usual full inch. Maybe I will say “Oh” instead of “OHHH!!!”
Just joking. Kinda.
I mentioned this concept to my family, and they broke into laughter. I raised that eyebrow (just an eighth of an inch this time) and asked them why. Seems they all think I’m already a curious person. They say this because I like to sit by my front window and watch people as they walk by my house. One member actually said my curiosity borders on nosiness. The nerve! Huff. Flared nostrils.
No matter what they think, I know I’m not nosy. If I am naturally curious, well, then, approaching things with curiosity and leaving out the judgment should be easy for me. I’m no genius, but I agree with Albert Einstein’s famous quote: “I have no special talent. I’m only passionately curious.”
That sounds about right.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 840)
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