Do you ever find yourself feeling frustrated, stressed, or annoyed?
The solution isn’t to jump to some positive affirmation and switch your thoughts.
This is what I see most new students and clients doing—resisting the negative emotion, trying to feel better right away.
There’s a really big mistake when you do it this way. You resist what is instead of accepting it. You cause the negative thoughts to reappear without ever resolving them.
It’s like a GPS when you put in the destination you want to drive to. You don’t just need the final address. You also need the starting point. Without it, you can’t get clear directions.
The same is true in life. There’s where you are now and where you want to go. You get the steps to move from where you are now to where you want to go by having both the end and starting points.
This means you have to look at all the not-so-fun-stuff like what your real beliefs are—even if (especially if) they’re really negative.
If you’re feeling stuck, unmotivated, or any other negative emotion that you’ve been hesitant to look at, I have a new tool to teach you in today’s episode: Curiosity and Compassion.
It’s through using curiosity and compassion you’ll get the understanding and acceptance of where you are now so you can move to where you want to go with openness instead of resistance.
Here are more personal development resources that will help you when you don’t know how:
- Two Emotions I Use To Help Me Feel Better (blog post)
- When You Don’t Know How (podcast)
- How To Solve Any Problem (blog post)
- Goal Setting Blog Posts (all blog posts on how to set goals)
- How To Life An Intentional Life (free training)
- Grow You (course)
Full Curiosity And Compassion Episode Transcript
Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life podcast where it’s all about designing your life on your terms and now your host, Natalie Bacon.
Hello, amazing. I was recently looking at old versions of my website using the way back machine online where Google indexes your websites periodically and you can kind of see the old designs. It’s really fun to do and I noticed that I have kept one constant, which is hello, amazing at the top of my website. I really just love that so I hope you’re doing amazing and if you’re not, today’s episode is going to help you. If you are an online business owner, which I know so many of you are because you tell me that you have side hustles or online businesses, you must get in to Online Business For Her so you can learn everything that I am teaching about online business so that you can scale your business and make more money. That’s what I am really excited about and going really deep into an online business for her, whereas Grow You, I am coaching you on everything in your life. It’s been really fun for me to be able to do both. I love the personal development and the growth and the mindset work and I love business. It’s really fun.
So today we are going to talk about a tool that I’m going to teach you that I actually use as a coach a lot and that I’m finding most people are skipping over in their own self coaching, which is what I teach so much in Grow You. I teach you how to coach yourself and then I coach you. I help you master the skill of coaching yourself and I also help you get further along with your goals and in your life and help you work through problems by coaching you. We call it in coaching, like being inside the bottle. When you’re coaching yourself, you’re inside the bottle and you’re trying to read the label. You do it, but it’s slower versus getting coaching from someone else where they’re on the outside and they can just read the label to you really quickly and you’re like, oh, I didn’t know that.
So curiosity and compassion is a tool that I use and it’s coming up a lot lately because I’m finding that people aren’t using it the way that they should. So what I’m seeing so much is that when I’m teaching people how to change their thoughts, they learn how to identify the current thought and then identify the thought that they want and then they really rushed to change it. So they might be thinking that money is really stressful and they don’t have enough money. And then they hear me say that you need to love your money and have this amazing relationship with your money and think that money is easy. And so they’re rushing to think those things without investigating why they’re thinking what they’re thinking or even getting clear about what they’re actually thinking.
And what happens is that you push against the negative thought and you try to replace it with this positive thought that you don’t yet believe. It’s kind of like repeating affirmations that you don’t believe there’s this resistance to what is. And when you do this, the positive thought that you’re trying to believe, it kind of becomes the fighter against this negative thought. And so there’s this tension that’s created. The negative thought is still there and you know this because it will keep popping up. The old thought will keep popping up. You’re trying to repeat this positive thought and you’re trying to push away the negative thought and the negative thought will keep popping up. And that’s kind of how you know that you’re doing it wrong, which is everything that I teach and talk about in Grow You.
And what I’m seeing is that it’s causing so much additional suffering instead of just allowing and processing pain. What I mean by this is I will teach something like your thoughts cause your feelings. Okay, so you probably know from my work that I teach that your thoughts cause your feelings. This is always true. Now I’ll teach that and then someone come to me and then they’ll give me a specific circumstance and then they’ll say that the circumstance is what’s causing them to feel a certain way and they want to know what to do. They want to know the action to take to feel better. And that’s getting it all wrong. What I teach and what is true is that your thoughts create your feelings, your feelings create your actions, and your actions create your results.
And when you think about your goals and what you want with your life and you’re thinking about over there, I teach a lot about being future focused and how to get from where you are now to where you want to go. But it’s not because over there is better. So people get really confused. They think that you set goals because over there is better. And then you start to think that you’re going to be problem free and you’re going to feel better over there. And what happens is you get over there and you just have a different flavor of problems. It’s kind of like being in high school and you can’t wait for college and then you’re in college and you’re like, well this is great, but I can’t wait to make my own money. And then you’re in your first job and you’re making your own money and you’re like, this is great, but it’s that next job, right? It’s always the next thing. And we always think that over there is where we’re gonna feel better. What’s true is that over there is just a different experience of life.
A lot of the work that I’m going to teach and that I do teach is all about the goal setting in the future focus and getting from where you are now to where you want to go and that’s super fun and that is something that I use in my life so much. But what I want you to use curiosity and compassion for is when you are not in a good place and when you’re in that emotional pain, when you’re in fear or worry or frustration or doubt, that’s kind of the other part of the work that I teach. It’s that you know when something is wrong or you don’t feel good or you’re not getting the results that you want. I want you to use curiosity and compassion as these tools where you can kind of figure out where you’re at right now. And then once you do that, you will move through the emotional pain and through the discomfort and you will naturally be able to then do the other part of the work, which is the goal setting and the moving to abundance and the transformation.
What I see is so much is that people are rushing to this new place and trying to escape the negative emotion that they are feeling, and this is actually very normal. So your brain seeks pleasure, avoids pain, and aims to be efficient. It’s the motivational triad. If you just think about it and make sense. The humans who survived to today, right? All of our ancestors were those who avoided pain because when you avoid pain, you don’t die. Basically. That’s the way the brain works. Your brain wants to avoid pain and seek pleasure so that you don’t die. This is really, really useful during cave times, you know, throughout the evolution of humanity.
Now we are in air conditioning. If you’re listening to this podcast, you are at a point where the type of pain that your brain is naturally avoiding is emotional pain, right? Nine times out of ten it’s fear of quitting your job. It’s stress about money. It’s worry about your mother or your kids or anger about your sister in law. That’s emotional pain. Even though when clients come to me that’s presented as the circumstances causing the pain, it is really your story about the circumstance that’s causing your own emotional pain. And right now when we’re in modern society and we’re worried about money and relationships and weight loss and our pets, the pain that we are avoiding is the exact pain that we need to learn how to process because it’s not going to kill us.
So instead of hurrying out of the self doubt and the worry and the frustration and trying to get to feeling better, what I want to teach you with curiosity is to let go of the judgment and to lean in to yourself and to other people to increase that intimacy so that there is an openness and a compassion. And from there is where change kind of almost happens effortlessly. It’s so much easier than trying to create these positive thoughts and repeat them as if that is going to just make the negative thought go away.
So I want you to learn how to allow negative emotion and really approach yourself and other people with curiosity and compassion. And I’m going to give you a bunch of questions for you to ask for you to inquire and use curiosity and compassion. When you’re doing your own self coaching or just in life, you have to understand that you don’t need to fight negative emotion. I want you to allow it. And curiosity and compassion are tools that will help you do this.
So people usually will avoid the emotional pain or they will beat themselves up about it. And you actually often increase your pain when you do this. So we call this clean pain versus dirty pain. And the clean pain is the pain that you actually want to feel. So maybe you go through a breakup or a divorce or you know, someone is diagnosed with a disease who you love and you’re presented with this circumstance and you really decide, you know, I want to feel devastated about this. So you feel devastation and you allow it. You understand how to feel emotion as a vibration in your body. You understand that nothing has gone wrong. And that this is part of the contrast of life.
That is a very different experience than dirty pain, where you’re adding on all of your judgements about it and you’re increasing the pain so that it’s suffering. It’s like the old saying, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. So the suffering is that added on judgment and story that this shouldn’t be happening, something has gone wrong and there’s so much resistance to it that you fight the emotion and you actually will increase the emotion instead of just allowing it to past. And the way that you get really aware of your thoughts and your feelings so that you have this increased consciousness and you can allow these emotions without fighting them and resisting them is to use curiosity and compassion.
So I wanted to give you the definitions of curiosity and compassion so you can really understand what they are before I tell you how to use them. Curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn something. I like to think of being curious as a state of being. And it’s also like a thought like, hmm, I wonder why I wonder what’s going on here. It’s this inquiry into understanding without the judgment that it should be or shouldn’t be. So you’re very curious. You want to know why? What’s going on?
Compassion, it’s really funny, I looked up the definition of compassion and I had to dig deep for one that I liked because I didn’t like the ones that came up at first. So the one that I liked the most and got kind of philosophical, but I shortened it and I kind of made my own. It’s a feeling of concern for the wellbeing of yourself or another. So compassion includes kindness, caring and acceptance. And it’s often found in the witnessing of pain or suffering in yourself or someone else. And I like to think of compassion as a feeling. So you’re feeling compassionate.
What I see most often with who I coach in Grow You is that we are noticing that we feel a certain way. Maybe we’re noticing that we doubt ourselves and our ability to succeed or that we think we should be further along where we are financially or in our lives or whatever. And instead of approaching that with curiosity and compassion, we beat ourselves up and we think something has gone wrong. This shouldn’t be like this. I hate that I do this. And we have all this negative self talk and we’re so judgmental against ourselves and it’s really just not useful.
Now the opposite is also not useful. It’s not useful for you to avoid it and just say, you know, okay, it is what it is. I’m just going to keep going forward. What I want you to do is in the middle, and I want you to approach it with curiosity and compassion and to lean in and to have this desire to know what’s really going on in your mind. Because once you understand what you’re thinking, you will understand that you are the cause of all the results in your life. It’s not the circumstances that are causing you to feel a certain way. You’re creating a story about the circumstances, and you might want to hold onto that story, but you might not.
`That is kind of the beauty of curiosity and compassion. It opens up this world of non-judgment and awareness so that you can decide how you want to live and experience life. It’s really a place of peace and acceptance. And then from there you can set those goals and be future focused and move through to the positive emotions where of where you want to be. Instead of thinking that by achieving something you’re going to feel better, right? That’s that resistance of what is, what I want you to do is accept what is and feel that emotion that you’re feeling. Decide if you want to keep it and then move forward.
So I want to give you a couple examples. So let’s say that you are feeling anxious. So there’s kind of two ways to do this. Let’s take the first way. So you notice that you’re feeling anxious and then you start beating yourself up about it and maybe blaming your circumstances. So you say to yourself, here we go again, feeling anxious for no reason or it’s just so ridiculous that I’m so stressed about work and my boss right now, I can’t even believe this. I just have so much going on in my life and you know, my anxiety is a really big problem. And you know, you have this whole story about it. That’s kind of like situation one when you’re feeling anxious.
What I want you to do and what curiosity and compassion does is it leans in to understand what’s going on inside of you. So you notice the feeling of anxiety. You allow it to do what Eckhart Tolle calls “becoming the watcher.” You say, hm, I notice this buzzing. What does it feel like? Where is it in my body? You know, what kind of temperature is it? You allow it and then you say, okay, what am I thinking that’s causing me to feel anxious? Maybe you notice that you’re thinking this shouldn’t be happening, or my work is stressing me out and you’re thinking the thought, my work is stressing me out and you’re feeling anxious. And then you want to examine the thought, oh, that’s so interesting. My work just is, it’s neutral, but I’m thinking the thought, it’s stressing me out. Huh? I wonder why I’m thinking that, right? No matter what you’re thinking and feeling, you do it from a place of love and compassion. You say, I probably have a really good reason to be thinking and feeling this way. I wonder what it is. Do you see there’s that non-judgment there and that, you know, openness.
It’s called holding this space when we coach other people. So when I coach someone, I hold this space and I seek to understand them so I can show them their brain. But what you’re doing here is you’re almost holding this space for yourself, you’re leaning into your own brain and your own feelings without the harsh judgment and the beating yourself up. This is gonna apply to every single thought and feeling that you have every single circumstance.
So let’s take money. Let’s say you’re worried about money and you think I don’t have enough money. You know, in the one hand you resist it and you are worried about it. And so you’re trying to feel better by telling yourself, you know, you should feel better about money. You just want money to be easy. You’ve heard Natalie talk about money. You should be able to do this. And how do, how do you get to the place where you’re just feeling better, right? That’s what everyone wants. Like, okay, okay, yes, I know that I’m in scarcity with money. How do I, how do I feel better? Right? And we’re so quick to want to rush to that next place. And what I want you to do is this second option, which is to look inside yourself and say, okay, why am I feeling worried? What is the thought that is causing the feeling of worry? Do I want to feel worried? Now worried is one of those emotions that is not useful at all, right? It doesn’t actually change the result, but you want to lean in and say, what am I thinking? Okay, so I’m thinking there’s not enough money. Is that true? Well, what is enough? Right? And you really want to question your questions because if you’re, if you’re too quick with this, it won’t work.
The whole point here is self discovery so that you can accept what is and then do all the fun goal setting, future focus work that gets you the new results. But you have to have to have to do this work first. It’s kind of like you’re traveling from New York to California and the destination of California you can see is you know, palm trees and 75 degree weather and it’s beautiful and it’s on the beach and you want to get there so fast without knowing and realizing where you’re starting from. You cannot get the steps from New York to California unless we put in the address of where you’re starting from in New York. We have to explore that. We can’t just get in the car and start driving. We can’t just get on a plane and cross our fingers and hope we get to California. We have to know exactly where we are right now. And the way that you do this is that you slow down and you look inside yourself and you figure out what’s going on.
You can also do this with other people. So let’s say you hate being around your sister in law because she interrupts and yells a lot. So what I did not know before becoming a life coach was that there is so much coaching around sister-in-laws. It has been such a delight for me to coach so many women about their sister-in-laws. So I like to use that as an example because it’s very relatable. So let’s say that you’re telling the story that you hate being around your sister in law because she interrupts everyone and she yells a lot and she’s dramatic. And you know, there’s always tension, like whatever the story is. So you’re telling yourself that you know, she’s the cause of the discomfort that you’re feeling. She’s the cause of the family drama. And she’s the reason why you don’t want to spend more time with your husband’s family. And you know, she really is the reason why there are so many problems, right?
So this, this will happen. A lot of students will come to me and they will want coaching on this and they will be thinking that it’s the circumstance causing all of the discomfort. And what I want you to do is to use curiosity and compassion to seek understanding of what’s actually going on with her and with you. So this might look like you asking yourself, why do I think something has gone wrong? What am I thinking about her? And what kind of manual do I have for her? Why do I think she should be different than who she is? And you can remind yourself, oh right, nothing has gone wrong. She’s supposed to be that way and this is an opportunity for me to do some work on myself and what am I thinking about her? I am thinking that she is the reason I feel a certain way, but that can’t be true. I feel a certain way because of what I’m making her actions mean and I can continue to make her actions mean that she’s the reason why I don’t want to hang out with my husband’s family, but the point is that I do that from a place of understanding. That’s what I’m doing. Instead of blaming her thinking that it’s actually her who is causing me to not want to do something. No one has that much power over you. You always get to decide how you want to think and feel. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel negative emotion. It doesn’t mean you don’t hate the sister-in-law. It means that you choose on purpose, how you want to show up around her and who you want to be around her. And you know that it’s your story causing the irritation. It’s not actually her.
And then you can try to understand her and think, okay well everyone is doing their best based on their own beliefs and their own experiences. So I wonder what she’s thinking that is causing her to think and act a certain way. And you can have compassion for her. You know, you realize that it must be difficult for her too and that she’s in pain and then you can find connection. I’ve also found this is true with people who have children. Maybe they have like three kids and then one of the kids is more disruptive than others and the mom will come to me and they’ll think that something has gone wrong and the more disruptive child will be doing something like yelling or you know, not eating breakfast and kind of throwing things all the time. And the other two are behaving, quote unquote normally, right. The way that she wants them to behave. And instead of yelling at the child and thinking that something has gone wrong, it’s approaching it with compassion and curiosity for the child and also for yourself and thinking about how he sees the world and what he’s doing and how he’s feeling and what that experience must be like for him. So I like to think that everyone has a good reason for doing what they’re doing and looking to that to understand them more. And what you’ll have here is more increased intimacy instead of decreasing that intimacy and kind of lessening that connection.
So the goal here is for you to become the watcher. I want you to watch your thoughts and your feelings. Separate yourself from what you’re thinking and figure out why you’re thinking it. Separate yourself from your feelings and notice the feeling, right? It doesn’t have meaning until you give it meaning. When you lean in with compassion and curiosity, instead of avoiding it or beating yourself up, you will have this deeper understanding and then you will have an openness where you naturally change. It’s so, so powerful. You’ll reset your emotions to zero. You’ll recalibrate, you will release that pain and you’ll learn how to process emotion instead of resisting, reacting and avoiding it. And you’ll also bring awareness to the story that you’re telling and you’ll be able to decide on purpose if you want to continue to tell that story and then you’ll get to decide what you want to be true for you. Okay?
So I want you to start to approach yourself and your own thinking and feelings with curiosity and compassion and I have some questions that you can start using today to do this for yourself. So if you’re starting with the thought, then I want you to ask yourself, what is the thought I’m thinking? It will just be a one sentence thought. Just choose any sentence. What is the thought I’m thinking? And then ask yourself, is it true? I love what Byron Katie says. She uses four questions and one of them is, is it true? And then the second question is, can I be 100% certain that it’s true? So I find that I’m very quick to say yes, it’s true. And then when I ask again like, am I sure that it’s true? Can I be positive that it’s true? Often the answer is no because we have this story in our head of what is true and it’s actually not factual.
So if someone says, you know, I’m stuck in my career. And that’s the thought. And then you ask the question to yourself, is it true? You might answer yes right away. And then when you ask yourself again, can I be sure that it’s true and you really think about it? No, you can’t be sure what is, what is stuck, right? It’s like a label that’s definitely not serving you. It’s kind of a reason for you to say, stay stuck in, I don’t know. Instead of moving forward. So when you think the thought I’m stuck in my career, it’s not true. So then you can kind of look and say, huh, why am I choosing to think this thought?
I like to say instead of going to a place of beating ourselves up, I like to remind myself my brain probably has a pretty good reason to think the thought it’s choosing. Now I might not want to hold onto it, but let’s just explore what that reason is. Maybe I’ve just practiced that thought a lot. Maybe I grew up and my parents, you know, constantly were talking about how much they were stuck so now I have this neuro pathway where I’m constantly thinking, no matter where I am in life, I’m stuck. And it’s not that you have to hold onto this story, but it’s going to be so helpful for you to realize why you’re thinking it.
So I want you to ask yourself, what’s the thought? Is it true? Can I be sure it’s true? Why am I choosing this thought? You can kind of go deeper with that. Where is it coming from? What’s the history here? Is it useful? So once in a while I will have a thought that comes up about money. Like I am so abundant with money. I love it. But like, let’s say that, you know, I missed the mark or you know, I don’t hit the goal, whatever it is, I’ll have like a thought that is not true. And I’ll immediately be able to say to myself, oh, I know that’s not true. And then I decide very quickly cause I’ve been doing this work on money so much, is it useful? Like those are the thoughts that go through my head right away. Is that true? Is it useful? And nine times out of ten it’s not useful.
So the way that you get the new results and that you become that future version of yourself is you have to believe things that aren’t yet true because the only place that the future exists is in your head, right? It’s just in your mind. Same with your past. It’s just sentences in your head. So if you continue to hold onto the story that money is tight and that you’re stuck in your job and that you’re not sure if you’re cut out to be an entrepreneur or that you can’t lose the weight because you never have, right, even if you have never lost the weight before and that’s true, right? Or you’ve lost the weight once, but then you gained it all back. And that’s true. Is it really useful to keep repeating that in your head? The answer might be no. I find that a lot of those sentences that I’m thinking in the stories that I’m telling, they’re not useful.Then ask yourself, how do I feel when I think this thought?
Remember when you’re thinking about feelings and you’re identifying a feeling, it’s really important for you to identify it as one word. This is a huge mistake. So many clients I coach on do, they’ll identify their feeling as a sentence and really that’s just another thought. So look up a feelings list. Or if you’re in Grow You, you have that self coaching workbook and on the last page there’s a whole feelings list. Find the emotion, the one word, emotion that you feel when you think that thought, and then identify what it feels like in your body. Take a breath before you try to rush away. It’s like, what’s so bad about feeling rejected? Okay, it feels hot in my body. It feels all over. You know, I feel it in my chest and my arms and maybe my head a little bit and it’s warm and I’m a little tight and I don’t, you know, it’s uncomfortable, but what’s so bad about it? This is the type of awareness that will really transform your life because when you realize that there’s nothing harmful about negative emotion, you will process it instead of trying to escape it and when you process it and lean into it, you accept it, you allow it, it passes more quickly and you move through it and then your world explodes because you can create and move forward in your life. It is so, so powerful.
Another question you can kind of play around with these questions like how do I act when I think this thought? Who am I being and then think, do I want to keep this thought? Is there a stress free reason to keep the thought? Those are all the questions that I want you to ask when you start with the thought. You can also start with the feeling so you can notice, okay, I’m feeling really afraid right now. That feeling of fear, how does it feel in my body? So you want to name the feeling first and then you want to notice it in your body. You want to notice the temperature, the location. You just want to slow down. So instead of rushing to get out of the feeling, you just want to allow it and you want to say what is the thought causing the feeling because you will be so tempted to blame a circumstance on it. And it’s always a thought. It doesn’t mean that you have to change the thought or get rid of the thought or that the thought is bad. It’s just a thought.
And it’s so powerful when you really realize we all just have human brains and they’re a mess. It’s totally fine. It’s like I’m a gosh, I get asked so often in Grow You how to introduce this work to friends and family because as soon as you start increasing your awareness in yourself, you like have this next phase where you want everyone else around you to be as aware as you are. And what I teach is that, oh no, no, no. That is not how it goes. Other people get to feel and think exactly how they want to feel and think. It is not your job to coach them or teach them. If you want, you can introduce them to this podcast or Grow You, but you want to apply these tools to yourself. That is where you’ll get the most judgment because you’re never going to be able to control the world and your brain is naturally going to want to try to control the world and it’s okay. You just have to bring your brain back to yourself and say, okay, what’s going on? What am I thinking? What am I feeling? And approach yourself without such harsh judgment. Approach yourself with curiosity and compassion. Do it with your thoughts, with your feelings to yourself and to other people so that you can get to this place of processing emotional pain so that you can have acceptance and feel better. And once you’re in this place of understanding and no judgment, you’ll be able to move from that neutrality to whatever you want to do next. But it’s only going to happen for you if you do it through curiosity and compassion so that you’re not pushing against and resisting what is. And that is where you create that openness for yourself. And I think that’s really where your world explodes. That’s where it has for me.
I coach myself so much and I use these tools and I have to remind myself not to beat myself up and that I probably have a really good reason for thinking that way. It’s kind of like if you have a child or think about it, imagine if you had a child and you would want to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing and come from compassion and love and curiosity and there’s a lightness to it. It’s not like playful, but it’s like, oh, that’s so interesting. The human brain is so funny sometimes how we make up these stories that don’t serve us.
I like to ask what if the opposite was true? Like what if I’m just totally wrong about that? What if the complete opposite was true? If it kinda gets trippy, but it’s really, really useful because it’s a reminder that my thoughts are creating my reality. So I need to figure out what I’m thinking right now, what I’m feeling right now. Do I want to continue thinking and feeling this way? And if not, what do I want to think and feel instead? But instead of rushing to that new thought and that new feeling, have that openness and lack of judgment, leaning into myself, figuring out what exactly I’m thinking and feeling. And the best tool is always going to be approaching yourself with curiosity and compassion.
So start to coach yourself or join me in Grow You and use these tools and you will find that you will be able to sink in and lean into yourself with such a deeper understanding and more peace in your life. And from there you’ll be able to set goals and move through it and grow into the next version of you.
All right. That’s all I have for you this week. I will talk to you next week. Bye bye.
Thank you for listening to the Design Your Dream Life Podcast. Subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episodes sent directly to you. To learn more about designing your dream life, visit NatalieBacon.com.