What is compassionate curiosity and how can it help you?

Compassionate curiosity is the magic combination of self-compassion and curiosity. What makes it magical is its ability to help you embrace internal and external challenges with an open heart and mind.

Typically, when something difficult appears, whether it’s internal, like obsessive thoughts, a physical ailment, or an emotional state; or external, like a financial setback, job loss, fire, flood or interpersonal conflict, many people’s tendency is to think they have to buck up. There’s nothing wrong with garnering your resources and rising to the occasion. At the same time, when the dust settles, whether it’s emotional, physical, financial, vocational or a relationship issue, it’s incredibly helpful to process the experience through a lens of compassionate curiosity.

Self-compassion allows you to help sad or anxious younger parts of you feel safe and cared for.

Curiosity helps bypass feeling overwhelmed, stressed, and even panicky. It does that by opening your mind to new possibilities. Curiosity encourages looking at something with freshness. It allows old preconceptions to take a back seat while you explore experiences through a lens of possibility and opportunity.

Curiosity even short circuits anxiety. Just the way a famous study showed how reframing anxious thoughts by thinking of them as exciting, curiosity shifts your mind into a different gear. Now, something that seemed daunting and scary becomes an object of inquiry and interest.

Cultivating compassionate curiosity is one of the most loving ways you can navigate a difficult situation. In addition, by practicing it with yourself you become more caring and interested in others.

Like anything else suggested on this website, it’s not easy or quick. It requires regularly resetting the way you have learned to cope in the past. If you have a perfectionist bent or a harsh inner critic that learning curve may be longer. Be patient with yourself. Reorienting your thinking, cognitive habit patterns that have been with your for years, takes time. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Even the smallest incremental change in the direction of compassionate curiosity will pay off in big ways. You will find yourself calmer, more equanimous, and patient with yourself and others. 

Cultivating compassionate curiosity is one of the kindest ways you can inhabit and be with yourself. It, along with unconditional self-acceptance, helps create the most loving relationship you can have with yourself. As you develop this new way of approaching life you will find you’re less lonely, you set healthy boundaries, you’re more at peace, you feel more balanced, it’s easier to be your authentic self, you can speak your truth more freely, and you care less what other people think of you. And, while it might seem paradoxical, all your relationships benefit from those changes.

Copyright Nicole S. Urdang

Nicole Urdang

Nicole S. Urdang, M.S., NCC, DHM is a Holistic Psychotherapist in Buffalo, NY. She holds a New York state license in mental health counseling and a doctorate in homeopathic medicine from the British Institute of Homeopathy.