If you’re anything like my students and clients, you want to know how to feel better asap.
I have a new tool to teach you today that I use on myself and my clients that will do just that.
The tool is: Curiosity and Compassion.
Here’s how it works…
If you want to listen instead of read, here’s the podcast episode that goes along with this post — Curiosity And Compassion.
When You Feel Negative Emotion It’s From Your Thoughts
The first order of business is to know that when you feel negative emotion it’s from a thought you’re thinking.
It’s not from your circumstances.
It’s never from your mom or the money or the guy or the weather.
It’s 100% of the time caused by your thinking.
- How To Coach Yourself (blog post)
- How To Coach Yourself (podcast episode)
- How To Solve Any Problem (podcast episode)
- Mindset Hacks (blog post)
- Personal Development Free Course (mini training)
- 9 Tools To Up-Level Your Life (webinar)
The Problem I See So Much
What I see so often is blaming the circumstance for how you feel, then attempting to change the circumstance to feel better.
This creates a sense of rushing to get from where you are now to where you want to go because you think over there is better than where you are. You think you’ll feel better.
This isn’t true.
You will just trade one set of problems for another (different) set.
When you think this way (that over there is better), you’ll try to do thought work by using affirmations that you don’t yet believe.
You can’t change this way.
What happens is you push against the negative thought and replace it with a positive thought.
This is RESISTANCE to what is.
When you do this, the positive thought becomes the fighter of the negative thought, which creates tension.
The negative thought is still there.
Now, it’s just the positive thought trying to push it away.
The result is the old thought will keep popping up until you understand it and process it.
Curiosity and compassion are the two emotions (and jointly, what I’m deeming to be one new tool) I teach (and also personally use) that can move from the emotional pain you’re experiencing to a place of peace.
The Solution: Curiosity And Compassion
Here’s what you need to do.
Instead of rushing away from the thought causing the negative emotion, approach it with compassion and curiosity.
You don’t need to fight negative emotion. You need to allow it.
Curiosity and compassion help you do this through a deeper awareness and consciousness.
If you don’t use curiosity and compassion, you’ll make the pain worse by resisting it and trying to talk your way out of it.
Let’s take a look at what curiosity and compassion are…
Curiosity And Compassion Defined
Good ole Google gave me these definitions…
Curiosity is a strong desire to know or learn something.
With curiosity, there is no judgment of good or bad. Instead, there is inquiry.
Compassion is a feeling of concern for the wellbeing of yourself or another (it includes kindness, caring, and acceptance; it is found in the witnessing of pain or suffering in yourself or someone else).
With compassion, there is no separation but instead, increased intimacy through understanding.
Instead of judging yourself and beating yourself up, use curiosity and compassion to see what you’re thinking and feeling so you can understand it, then change it.
Let’s take some examples…
Here are three examples of three different circumstances and how you can use curiosity and compassion.
Example 1: You wake up feeling anxious.
- Option 1: You start beating yourself up and blaming your circumstances, saying to yourself, “here we go again; I just need to find a way to get over this; it’s so ridiculous and honestly it’s my job and boss right now. I just can’t even believe all this.”
- Option 2: You notice the feeling of anxiety. You allow it. You identify the thought causing it. You process it and remind yourself it’s okay and you can feel anxious.
Example 2: You’re worried about money and not having enough.
- Option 1: You start resisting the feeling of worry and try to feel better by telling yourself you don’t have to feel this way; you can think money is easy and that’s what Natalie does, so you should be able to do it, too; you wonder why this is happening to you and feel sorry for yourself.
- Option 2 You look inside yourself and ask yourself, “why am I worried? What is the THOUGHT causing this worry? Do I want to feel worried? Is this thought serving me?”
Example 3: You hate being around your sister in law because she interrupts and yells a lot.
- Option 1: You tell yourself that your sister in law always causes family fights and she’s the reason why you don’t want to be around your husband’s family. You blame her for not being close to them. You’re irritated by her and with her. You really think she’s the cause of all the problems in the family and everyone who know the facts would agree with you.
- Option 2 You ask yourself why you think she should be different? You remind yourself that she’s behaving exactly how she’s supposed to behave. You look for ways to accept her and love her. You know that it’s your story causing you the irritation, not her. You have compassion for her because you realize that she also must be in pain, just like you.
Regardless of the circumstance, you always have the option to approach every thought and feeling with curiosity and compassion.
I promise you, this will serve you so well.
I do this all the time. When I’m angry, I say “huh, that’s interesting. What story am I telling that’s causing this anger?” Or when I’m thinking something shouldn’t be happening, I ask myself , “why I think that and if that’s true.”
This will increase your awareness because you’ll become the watcher of yourself.
Goal: Become The Watcher
Eckart Tolle talks about becoming the “watcher” of yourself by asking yourself what you’re thinking and feeling.
You separate yourself from what you’re thinking and feeling and seek understanding.
You learn to watch yourself without judgment so you can find peace.
When you’re curious and compassionate, you create openness and intimacy. It’s a beautiful thing.
Through this observation, you can find neutrality in the middle of negative emotions, like fear or anxiety, instead of doing what most people do, which is adding on so much unnecessary suffering.
Those are the main benefits: finding peace through awareness and acceptance. And if being at peace with what is isn’t compelling enough, I don’t know what to tell you. It certainly does the job for me. 🙂
Next up is how to actually do it. It’s one thing to say “be curious and compassionate” and its another to understand how to do it.
Here’s how to get started feeling better through inquiry…
Questions To Ask (Inquiry)
Start by asking yourself questions.
Here are the questions I use and suggest that will help you feel better:
- What is the thought I’m thinking?
- Is it true?
- Can I be 100% sure it’s true?
- Is it useful?
- How do I feel when I think this thought? (one word)
- How do I act when I think this thought? Who am I being?
- Do I want to keep this thought?
- Is there a stress free reason to keep this thought?
- Why is my brain choosing this thought?
- Where is it coming from? (probably has a good reason to think it!)
- What’s the history here?
- What if the opposite is true?
- Who would I be without this story?
The questions above are all related to starting with the thought.
You can also start with the feeling (instead of the thought).
To do this, ask…
- What am I feeling? (one word)
- How does it feel in my body?
- What’s the temperature? Is it hot? Cold?
- Where do I feel it in my body? Chest, arms, legs, head, neck?
- What is the thought causing this feeling?
- Do I want to hold onto this feeling?
Feelings are harmless. They don’t have meaning until you give them meaning.
Instead of running away from feeling bad, practice allowing the negative emotion and moving through it. When you do this, it will go away much faster. Resistance doesn’t work.
Result: REAL Change
When you approach yourself (and others) with curiosity and compassion amazing things happen.
You’ll reset your emotions.
You’ll recalibrate to zero.
You’ll release the pain.
You’ll process the emotion.
You’ll let go of the story you’re telling.
You’ll accept what is.
You’ll find the truth.
You’ll move from the negative judgments causing the negative feelings and negative outcomes to a neutral place of acceptance and understanding.
You’ll stop beating yourself up with such harsh judgments.
From there, you can move forward with your goals and next version of yourself.
A Final Note!
You can apply Curiosity and Compassion to 1) thoughts and 2) feelings AND to 1) yourself and 2) others.
Your own thoughts and feelings — approach with curiosity and compassion when you’re feeling negative emotion.
Your understanding of other people — approach them with curiosity and compassion when you make up a story of how someone should be doing something.
Once you’re in a place of understanding and no judgment, you will be able to move from the neutrality to the abundance that you want.
It’s through using curiosity and compassion that 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.