Become Curious to Find Solutions

A little girl playing and being curious

How do you become curious in the face of adversity? Building this muscle is essential in creating the career and life you want. Let’s be real, interactions that leave you upset and frustrated aren’t going to magically go away. However, the way you approach these interactions can have an enormous impact on your well-being.

Let’s pretend you have a conversation with your boss that goes sideways and doesn’t have the outcome you hoped. You leave the conversation upset and feel like your boss isn’t supporting you. You find a co-worker to talk to and the two of you commiserate on the injustice of it all. In this commiserating, you are now making the story fit the emotion you’re experiencing. And, you’re reinforcing the idea that your boss is an unsupportive jerk.

How will you ever be able to see your boss as supportive when you’ve reinforced the idea they are unsupportive? The frustration you cultivate by reinforcing these ideas creates a cycle resulting in phrases such as, “Well, that’s how it always is, I can’t change it.”

Staying in this cycle of frustration gives us the ability to stay victim to circumstance. We can always blame something outside of us (that person who made that decision, the project team that can’t get along, my boss who won’t listen to me, etc)

So, what is there to do?

In situations like this (let’s be real, these are never going away), you can address your own reactions. You choose how you feel about it. I’m not saying to stuff emotions that need to be fully processed, I’m saying process the emotions of frustration/anger/upset then look to find a neutral place.

Finding a neutral place, like curiosity can create space between you and the event creating a detachment that allows solutions to show up. Often, we’re so narrowly focused that we can’t see the solution until we’re able to take a step back.

Give it a try the next time something really annoying happens. When you’re able to take a moment, practice breathing to calm down your nervous system (4 counts inhale, 4 count hold, 4 counts exhale, 4 count hold, repeat 3 times), then examine the event. Answer these questions:

Why am I experiencing these emotions?
What is this event showing me about how I react?
How can I get from here to being curious?

See if this creates more space for you to find a solution!

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