What is the opposite of knee jerk reaction?
Well, most would tell you mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness. The problem is, if you’re anything like me, rebellious and a bit of an experiential learner who used to constantly fall sleep trying to meditate, you might recoil a bit at the suggestion from every corner of the world telling you that mindfulness is the panacea to all our woes.
Would it make it easier if you knew that the answer curiosity?
Curiosity is the inspiration and mindfulness is the practice. If you are curious about something, you can’t help it, you are focused on learning, hearing, understanding, experiencing… You will naturally be mindfully experiencing it, to truly feel with all your senses as well as emotionally.
Every time you find yourself uncomfortable in any way… whether physical or mentally, bring out your curiosity. Ask yourself “What am I feeling?” “Where am I feeling it?” “Why am I feeling that?” “How do I know?” “When does it start and when does it end?”
Curiosity weirdly works best when it’s being use for its own sake and not for a specific end result. By that, I mean, that if we feel pain and the only questions we ask about how to stop the pain immediately, we may not actually end up dealing with the source of the issue, but rather just finding ways to shoot the messenger–stop the immediate pain.
We can use curiosity for every question…
Why did he yell at me? Did I do anything wrong?
Why am I yelling at my kid over a broken crayon?
Why is my kid always throwing his jacket on the floor instead of hanging it up?
Genuine Curiosity Crowds Out Other Feelings
When we are genuinely curious and not asking a rhetorical question because we are upset, the question naturally gets the logical side of our brain to think objectively. Then we can more calmly go about understanding the situation.
No, I didn’t do anything wrong, perhaps he is stressed from something else. I do not have to react in an angry way due to feeling hurt, I can ask with curiosity if everything is okay.
I got mad about the broken crayon because it confirms my belief that my child does not respect his things and will always break or lose them. Is it true that she does not take care of things? Can I come up with examples where she does take good care of things? Does she know how to take good care of crayons? Maybe there is a teaching opportunity.
I have repeatedly told him to hang up his jacket when he comes home. Let me observe what is going on when he comes home. Oh, I can see how there are many things going on, his shoes, his school bag, and now with winter, it’s his hat, scarf, and mittens. The hook also might be a bit on the high side. If hung up a certain way, his jacket will slide off the hook.
By taking the time to genuinely be curious about your feelings and your child’s perspective, you might discover things you hadn’t noticed before. You might develop an understanding to provide a better way to achieve your mutual goals.