Being curious is so easy for kids. If you’ve ever baby-sat or have kids yourself, you are familiar with how kids LOVE to ask “why?”
Kids want to understand their world, so they ask questions. They know they don’t have all the answers and openly try to learn more.
But as we grow up, we learn more about human behavior and the world and we start asking less questions. We move toward assumptions, judgments, and criticisms.
We get burned by people, which makes it easier to assume someone is out to get us. We have personal insecurities and trigger points and assume someone else feels the same way.
Instead of considering that everyone has life experiences unique to them, we assume that everyone’s experiences are similar to ours. And, as a result, we assume we know someone else’s thoughts, intent, perspective, or motivation.
Often, though, we don’t have a clue.
We don’t actually know why someone does something, unless they tell us. Even if you know someone very well, it doesn’t guarantee that you will always be able to read their mind.
And it does us a BIG disservice. Curiosity is valuable for so many reasons.
Curiosity decreases the likelihood of shame.
Logan’s often expressed to me that he felt shamed when he was a child. If he did something his parents thought was wrong, he was told that it was wrong (like it was a fact, not their opinion) which made him feel really bad about himself.
Logan’s parents are wonderful people, and I’m sure they meant no harm. But actions can have harmful ramifications even when the intent was not to damage.
Feeling like he was “bad” negatively affected how he viewed himself. He felt like there was one way to do something, and if he didn’t do it that way, he was wrong or bad. Now he’s prone to people pleasing because he fears criticism for not doing something the “right” way.
He and I have talked about how we will handle situations when our future kids disobey us, talk back, and do things we won’t approve of.
One thing we won’t say is…“because I said so.” That’s so not helpful to children, or anyone. We are not perfect; we won’t have all the answers as parents. We don’t particularly believe that there’s one right way to do things, and we won’t approach parenthood from a “we’re right because we’re your parents” perspective.
Instead, Logan has offered some wording for us: “How did that make you feel? How do you feel right now? How did you make that decision? Do you think that was the right way to handle it?”
I love these so much because they don’t make assumptions and they don’t shame.
Curiosity doesn’t mean condoning or condemning certain behaviors, rather trying to get more information and understand.
This doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences for actions either. Only that we will seek to understand our child’s motivation for breaking the rules instead of telling them that they are bad, naughty, or wrong.
Curiosity encourages trust, safety, and connection.
Studies have found that people who are curious in their relationships (not only romantic ones) are considered more interesting and engaging.
One particular study by Todd Kashdan of George Mason University and his colleagues showed that curiosity is linked to greater perceptions of closeness.
”Being interested is more important in cultivating a relationship and maintaining a relationship than being interesting; that’s what gets the dialogue going. It’s the secret juice of relationships,” says Kashdan.
Making assumptions does the exact opposite – it pulls you and your partner apart. Here’s an example from our relationship.
I know Logan really well, which sometimes makes me assume that I know why he’s doing or not doing something.
Recently, I was wondering why Logan hadn’t worked more on an idea he had for our blog. I thought his idea was really good and believed that many people would benefit from it.
He was spending his free time working on it, but then suddenly I didn’t hear anything more about it.
I assumed that Logan was researching and researching, but not actually working on developing the idea. This made me frustrated. I made this assumption based on my knowledge that he loves to research and is really good at it.
So when I eventually confronted him on it, I wasn’t coming from a place of curiosity, but rather assuming that I knew why he wasn’t working more on this idea.
Logan opened up to me and explained that he didn’t feel ready to develop his idea. He felt vulnerable sharing his insecurities associated with his idea with me.
I felt terrible and apologized for making assumptions. Then I asked him to try to be more open with me in the future because I want to hear his fears and insecurities. (This may sound cheesy, but it’s really true!)
Logan is usually really good at this, so I forgot that it can still be hard for him to be vulnerable sometimes – it is for everyone! I reminded him that I’m always on his team and want to help however I can.
We both grew from this situation. Logan was reminded that it’s safe to open up to me, and I was reminded that I should ask questions before making assumptions.
Curiosity keeps you humble and always growing.
Asking questions says: “I don’t know everything, and I want to know more.”
If we’re open to it, we can learn a lot from other people. Each of us has specific areas of knowledge, interests, and talents. And most people appreciate when you ask them for their advice and more than willing to give it to you.
Curiosity also helps us to never stop growing and keeps our minds active. And who doesn’t want that as they age?
What are your thoughts on curiosity? What do you think of this approach? Chat with me below!
Featured image by Joseph Rosales