Compassionate Curiosity

People often say to themselves in a self-accusatory way: “Why did I do that?” “Why am I always this way?”

When we think about it, we see that these were not questions, but statements laden with criticism, i.e., “I shouldn’t have done that!” “I shouldn’t be this way!”

It is clear that nobody will open up when addressed in this blaming matter, not even when the blame comes from the self.

On the other hand, if we turn these statements into genuine questions, we will have rich material for self-understanding.

Asked compassionately, “Why did I do that?” may yield some illuminating answers,

as would “I wonder why I believe I need to act that way?”

Compassionate Curiosity

The first key is to ask the question with genuine curiosity.

  • When we are curious, we admit we don’t know the answer but we are open to all possibilities
  • Our mind is not already made up. 
  • We want to learn.

The second key is to ask the question compassionately.

  • Compassion in this case means a commitment to one’s psychological and spiritual growth. 
  • Compassion is incompatible with blame and accusation.
  • It means that we want the answer not so that we can use it against ourselves, but so that it can help us develop.

The third key is not to make yourself wrong

  • When you find yourself lacking compassion for yourself or others.
  • The point is just to notice and watch the lack of compassion, the difficulty you may have generating it. 
  • In that space of watching, the compassion will arise.
  •  You don’t have to make it happen.

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