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Compassionate Curiosity and Self Reflection
© 2015, Amy Mills-Guest, M.C., RCC
A few years ago I took a trip with one of my brothers over New Year’s. When we talked about what our resolutions would be for the upcoming year he shared that he had just one… “to think more.” After he said this, we both laughed and joked about how crazy it sounded to budget time for thinking but also how necessary it can be.
Taking time to think, to reflect, on how we live our day-to-day life can take on any number of different forms that each provide an invaluable opportunity for personal growth. However, adopting a perspective of compassionate curiousity towards the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that are most present in your life may provide an emotionally safe way for you to reflect on what personally drives you to be the person you are. Engaging in compassionate curiosity as you reflect on yourself and your life may influence your ability to process at a deeper level and ultimately to engage in greater change.
Compassionate curiosity signifies a unique combination of curiousity, openness, acceptance, and love that we can hold on to while we reflect on the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that make us who we are. Importantly, being compassionately curious allows us to question ourselves without attaching judgement.
Compassionate curiosity requires a certain willingness to face ourselves which can be quite uncomfortable. We must be willing to become aware of what is really going on for us in a given moment and willing to explore what can be an uncomfortable part of ourselves through gentle investigation. The purpose is not to justify or rationalize but rather to understand and question ourselves about whether a behaviour or attitude is serving the purpose we hope it is serving: “Is what I am doing/thinking the best way of coping or am I sabotaging my real goals?”
Answering this line of questioning can be difficult and uncomfortable. Yet, when we avoid thinking about the things that are causing us to feel unbalanced in some way, we are running from them and ultimately reinforcing the idea that we are unable to cope with or resolve a particular challenge.
It can be an invaluable skill to become able to sit with ourselves in a place of curiosity, gentle investigation, discomfort and vulnerability for a time.
As we are able to increase our awareness about what we are thinking, how we are thinking and what is happening while we are thinking, we also increase our knowledge and control of how our thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations affect us. Through this awareness we gain insight into intention and, consequently, we increase our capacity for practical reasoning.
This process leads us to a place of greater self-awareness and allows us to consider different perspectives, and ultimately, allows us a freedom in how we respond to challenges.