Get Curious

Shame and blame are habit patterns that start early in life. We learn them from the adults around us who are doing the best they know to socialize us. Because they are habits that have been around for a long time, they require a thoughtful strategy to change them. Letting go of long held beliefs usually does not happen easily.

However, given that the alternative of curiosity, understanding, and compassion feels much better, it is not that difficult to diminish the shame and blame and increase curiosity.

This practice is fairly simple.

Directions:

  1. When you notice yourself going into self-blame or shame, take a nice, long, deep breath and say to yourself, “I notice that a part of me is shaming or blaming myself. What if I got curious about what motivated me to do or not do ______ instead?”
  2. By doing that, you are taking care of your brain. The moment you say, “I notice that a part of me...,” the focus of your brain activity shifts from your survival center (the amygdala) to your neocortex, your new brain and the center of executive functioning. Research subjects sensed an immediate shift in their sense of well-being from that simple statement said internally. The stress hormones that start flowing when you go into the survival state are preparing you to fight, flight, freeze, or appease. Shifting into the hypothetical, “What if I got curious?” has shown to open the mind up to creativity, innovation, and learning.
  3. After posing the question to yourself, notice your answer. Your answer has the keys to what is keeping the belief pattern in place. For instance, your mind will pop up with an answer such as, “You'll be a lazy bum. You won't achieve anything.” Dialogue with that voice. For instance, you might say, “That is what my parents said and I know it is not true.” Or you might say, “So, what if I am lazy for a while? I never take time off and it might be good for me.” Keep your dialogue going until you find a voice that says, “Okay. Let's give this curiosity thing a try. I'm open to finding out what happens.”
  4. When you hear/feel that shift inside you, it is deserving of a celebration. Making that quarter turn shift is huge. The biggest impediment to getting curious is the old, archaic belief that if you don't harangue yourself as you have done up until now, you will somehow stagnate or prove that you really are bad. The worst that will happen if you get curious is that you might learn something.
  5. After celebrating by giving yourself a pat on the back, a high five, a cheer, or whatever suits you, then it is time to do a deep dive into curiosity.
  6. Keep getting curious. With each answer that arises, ask an open ended question and wait for the answer. You will be surprised by what bubbles up. When you are not judging or shaming yourself, it is amazing what your unconscious will reveal.
  7. If you hear yourself saying something like, “I don't have a clue,” then ask yourself, “What if I did know? What might I find out about myself?” Or say something like, “Let's supposed I do know. What might it be?”

Have fun exploring getting curious. But even more to the point at first, be tenacious about noticing the shame or blame that comes in, with love and gentleness express your awareness of it, and then redirect your mind to get curious.

I look forward to hearing how it goes.

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