Receiving an odd compliment recently, prompted a journey leading to a unique discovery. I often write about managing anxiety here at Mindfulness Monday, sharing tools and techniques which help with every day anxiety. After receiving a compliment for my curious mind, I discovered curiosity tames anxiety by redirecting anxious thoughts.
Curiosity actually releases the neurotransmitter, dopamine, triggering feelings of Joy, contentment, and security.
Employing curiosity during moments of potential anxiety, offers a new method for processing racing thoughts and catastrophizing. As curiosity tames anxiety, we learn better problem solving skills, contributing to a more “present” mindset, rather than slipping into past or future worries.
Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends.
Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always.
We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning the art of “stillness” so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.
benefits of curiosity
While teaching new orientees skills for better engaging patients and families of diverse backgrounds, I share varied ways of employing respectful curiosity. “You ask fabulous questions,” is a comment I receive often, along with “I never thought of asking those things.”
The artfully crafted question illicits information, but even more, it demonstrates your interest in others from the perspective of an open mind.
As we learned in my last post, cultivating an attitude of holy curiosity opens our minds to God’s view on our situations, changing our perspective from one of fear to one of security. Considering the many benefits of curiosity, helps us learn how curiosity tames anxiety.
Which of these benefits of curiosity have you noticed in your own life?
- Increased problem solving. Curiosity fuels resourcefulness and creativity.
- Less fearfulness. Curiosity drives action-stepping out of your comfort zone.
- More empathy. Curiosity avoids judgement, instead understanding the other person’s position.
- Increased knowledge. Curiosity leads to learning-learning helps diminish fear of the unknown.
- Increased humilty. Curiosity admits you do not know all the answers.
- More self-awareness. Curiosity explores beliefs and perspectives, understanding your own position and thoughts.
how curiosity tames anxiety
Curiosity naturally opens your mind to explore new ideas, methods, and perspectives, immediately slowing the racing thoughts of anxiety, while igniting creative problem solving. Try these easy mindfulness activities for cultivating curiosity rather than opting for worry or catastrophizing.
Wonder Spotting with Curiosity
If you struggle with anxiety over world or local news and events, try “wonder-spotting”. When tempted with only seeing the negative, or fearing the future, look for the wonder in your surroundings.
Shifting to a curiosity driven mindset chooses a view of new, beautiful, and interesting things, igniting the brain’s creativity in searching for possibilities instead of problems.
- Ask, “What is beautiful, new or interesting about this moment, place, or time [of day]?
- Act, grab your camera and take a picture, journal about your find, or simply note the date and what you found in a note app on your phone.
Remember: “Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)
Try Curious Empathy
Often anxiety stems from relational difficulties or misunderstandings. If you struggle with relationship anxiety, try practicing “curious empathy”. An empathic approach also helps if rejection is a trigger for you.
Centering curiosity on the thoughts and feelings of others challenges catastrophic generalizations and false narratives, contributing to anxious feelings of hurt and rejection.
- Ask, “I wonder what is going on for my friend, spouse, child, today?” Instead of gripping the negative narrative in your mind.
- Act, check reactivity and respond in kindness, or shift the focus from yourself by inviting your friend, spouse, child into conversation about them.
Remember: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Be a Curious Emotional Detective
When anxiety triggers overwhelming emotions, instead of falling prey to the unreliability of your anxiety, become a “curious emotional detective.” Welcome all emotions to the table through curious exploration.
Exploring emotions triggered by anxiety disarms reactivity and calms overwhelm by acknowledging the emotions without feeling threatened by them.
- Ask, “What do I think will happen which is causing this emotion?” Followed by, “What evidence do I have for this scenario?” and finally, “Is there another explanation?”
- Act, instead of ignoring or running with your emotions, slow down, and face them. Journal out the emotions you feel, and why you feel them. Just listing them on paper frees your mind from the overwhelm of holding them.
Remember: “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19)
Curiosity tames anxiety through compassion. Setting aside judgement of yourself and others, frees you to gently explore and accept the truth, rather than fueling more anxiety through self-condemnation, catastrophizing, and false narratives.
Using compassionate curiosity helps me seek the truth of my situations and relationships while learning acceptance of my own limitations with kindness.
Ultimately, embracing the holy curiosity we learned about last week, with a compassionate curiosity, enables the opening of our minds to God’s perspective, while releasing our anxiety in the security of our intimate relationship with Him.