The first mention including “satisfaction” dates back to 1912. The altered meaning: While curiosity may harm you, the satisfaction of finding knowledge/the truth is worth it. So be curious, strive to find the truth and gain knowledge!
I see many people who remain stuck in pain and tension and on the other hand people who approach their lives with a certain lightness, energy and joy … despite the same kinds of experiences. How do they do that?
I can only speak for myself. I have had my low points just like anyone else. Yet I have always maintained a curiosity about the world, other people, other information, new insights, other ways, and my “own wise. My own wise is curious, playful and fond of learning. That was my ticket to joy, self-awareness and growth.
When we experience a high impact event, our system jolts. How we deal with life after that event determines whether or not we develop trauma. We either continue to spin around in pain, trapped in the story and the behavior, attitudes and habits that arise from it. Or we open again to the pleasurable sensations and feelings. We feel stimulation from those parts in us that want to learn, grow, discover, explore. That is Curiosity! And it is a medicine for joy, vitality, sparkle, vibrancy and energy.
play = grow
Curiosity is directly linked to learning and exploring. Exploring is about playing. Children in their very earliest years learn through play as they explore the world. Our nervous system is wired in such a way that it has to learn everything when we are born. And this learning is about experiential learning. That means that every curious movement into our environment stimulates the nervous system to develop further. Our emotional intelligence and the capacity of our minds follow our motor development. They go hand in hand, guided by the body’s capacity to move through the world. The nervous system learns through the free, unbiased act of playing.
fear as a show-stopper
The demon of curiosity is fear. Fear says “Just hold back”, “Don’t even try”, “Stay small”, “the world is a dangerous and unsafe place”. Many of us grow up with a fear of doing something wrong, of failing. Maybe the parents were very protective and cautious when the baby was learning to move,..maybe our direct environment was focused on one type of achievement, not acknowledging our unique talents, maybe failure was seen as the end of the world. Maybe we used to be laughed at and ridiculed. From the moment the fear of mistakes and failure creeps in, we stop learning and growing. We think we are safe in that small zone in which we feel comfortable.
Chronic low-level “Fear of the Unknown” has the ability to erode our natural resilience and solidify the energy of action. I spent years feeling safe in the false security that my husband had a job that we could always fall back on. I had talents and dreams about who I wanted to be, that I kept small enough to not stir my world, to stay just below the surface, not to stand out, and especially not to do anything wrong and not fall too hard. What an effort that cost me and what a stress when I look back on it now. Fear is an inward pulling movement that literally contracts, makes us shrink. The muscles tighten without coherence. It brings havoc in the body as all internal relationships are disrupted by excessive muscle tension. We slowly deplete and burn out.
In 2018, all at once, this certainty was finished. Just as I had given up tango school, my husband unexpectedly lost his job, my dreams wanted more from me and different. My little world was no longer… The moment I had always dreaded now came as a relief, fresh energy. New opportunities on the horizon. My curiosity won out over fear.
Our natural movement is growth, expansion. If we did not make that movement by nature there would have been no more people on earth for a long time. It is the natural movement of all that lives, of the universe itself: expansion, growth. In my retreats and courses, I often bring forward the energy system – the chakra system. Energy directs everything. The movement of energy is expanding or contracting and directs our emotions; the secret drivers of muscles and fascia. The energy in its most dense form becomes matter, like the body. In its lightest form, the particles are so far apart that the energy is everywhere, formless, one.
To be aware of this energy is to step into a higher consciousness where there are no boundaries, where information flows freely, where all perspectives are existing at once. This is where we go when curiosity takes us out dancing. We step out of the small world of our stories and see ourselves, our identities and core-beliefs from multiple perspectives. We learn context from the archetypal energies running through us, the patterns and symbols in our stories and identities. We connect with our wholeness, the complex collection of identities and energies we are. We transcend the limited reality of the past stories. We step into the now, into new experiences that challenge and question our habits, patterns, attitudes, core beliefs, behaviors, our unique model of the world. That’s Learning.
In 2017, I did the training to become an NLP practitioner. Something that immediately hit me was how all of our painful stories and beliefs, no matter how unique, are so similar in energy, beliefs and emotions. How our very own stories fit seamlessly into the archetypical fairy tale stories with their life themes, scenarios and protagonists. One of the assignments was to write your own life story like a fairy tale. Fairy tales contain all the ingredients for a hero journey, even for a home-and-garden hero-story. One in which ‘ordinary’ people wonder why they are so unhappy, tired, drained, or empty when they have not been mistreated, or have had serious illnesses or a violent accident.
In fairy tales, the protagonist often goes on a journey into limbo. He/she leaves the comfort of the metaphorical house -the comfortable prison of certainty- when the pain is greater than the fear of letting go. Pain is anything that damages our soul. It can be emotional, physical, mental or a form of spirituality in which our soul is suffocated, unable to open, breathe and reach out.
The protagonist encounters all kinds of challenges and learning moments on her uncertain path that prepares her for the next phase. A bit like the nervous system keeps learning through the challenges, mistakes and new experiences we encounter in our lives. The main character in fairy tales often has a very spontaneous, open and kind attitude towards everything new. The energy of the archetypal and energetic heart. An important element of the heart is curiosity, the base for entering into a loving relationship with yourself and the other. The main character is curious and attentive about learning about herself and everyone she meets on her journey. With that, she wins a lot of hearts and gets a lot of help along the way.
The journey of the protagonist is therefore often a metaphor for the journey through our inner landscape, towards self-awareness, to unlock the inner sparkle of the soul, towards our purest essence of love and relationship. For the fairytale characters who lack curiosity, compassion and kindness, things often do not end well. They meet a lot of opposition. From the curious, attentive attitude of fairy-tale persons, we can learn how we can dance our journey through our lives and continue to learn experience-wise.
Do you choose to act from curiosity or fear when uncertainty presents itself?