How Curiosity Can Heal Your Life
I recently went bowling for the first time in at least 10 or 15 years at a holiday party for the therapy practice I’m affiliated with (more info here). I asked someone if I could jump into their “team” and bowl with them, but I was nervous, and I also tried to create safety for myself by saying, “I’m really terrible at bowling.”
Do you ever do that? Try to anticipate total and utter failure and give yourself an out?
The problem with this approach is that it’s not really that honest.
After my big declaration (in which I’m a terrible bowler), I stepped up to the lane and got a strike. Ooops.
This unexpected success was actually even more embarrassing than a gutter ball.
I scrambled to explain why I had sold myself short. “Oh! Um, I’m USUALLY a terrible bowler.” I basically felt like I had lied to everyone, set them up for a secret strike, and in some sense I had been dishonest.
I mean, seriously, did I really think that I bowled the same way I did 15 years ago? Why would I think that a bowling history mostly from childhood and teenage years would predict current bowling conditions?!!
When we take the past and project it into the future, we do ourselves and everyone around us a disservice. We create anxiety, we take on more than we can chew, we create self-fulfilling prophecies, and we have a filtered view of reality, like looking at life through a mesh screen.
Do you ever walk into a room, see someone you’ve met before and do an internal eye roll in your brain? “Oh, there’s THAT GUY. He is SO ANNOYING.”
If you’re anticipating a response, you’re more likely to get it.
With your filter on, and your guard up, you may not be able to see the ways in which “that guy” is actually attempting to be kind or to connect.
(Or, opposite scenario but exactly the same, you decide that someone is SO GREAT and then they do something you don’t like, but by then you’ve invested so much in that person being awesome that you’re sent reeling in a tailspin of confusion and disbelief!)
In the case of my bowling, I got clear feedback, in my first frame, that I am NOT a terrible bowler. Neither am I a GREAT bowler. Both predictions are untrue.
What I learned about myself is that I am someone who enjoys bowling, and I might want to do it more often! It’s SUCH A RELIEF to be neither terrible nor great, and to show up as you are and SEE WHAT HAPPENS!
It takes so much pressure off to NOT KNOW and to be curious about what will happen next. For me, this is where delight comes from. From the unknowing and from the spontaneous strike.
Winter is a time where we learn how to move around more adeptly in the dark. The days are short and precious. Our energy is contracted and if we really sink in and allow our eyes adjust to the lack of light, we can get curious about ourselves and our experience.
I’m curious about what predictions you hold for yourself? Do you think you’re terrible at something? Great at something? Reach out and let me know what you’re thinking.
Do your predictions hold you back in any way? What’s it like to hold your expectations lightly?
Additionally, I will graciously accept Philadelphia bowling recommendations! I was at PEP (Programs Employing People) Bowl in South Philly. Proceeds benefit a nonprofit agency that helps find jobs for people with developmental disabilities. All the 80s nostalgia and a good cause.