You know that phrase, “curiosity killed the cat”? I was curious enough to look up where it comes from. Apparently the original form dating back to Shakespeare’s time, was “care killed the cat.” “Care” meaning “worry” and “doubt”.
There certainly is no doubt amongst the medical profession that excess emotional stress has a negative impact on health, and so this earlier version of the metaphor rings true, but the modern version? Really, who would want to warn us against investigating and questioning?
Maybe it was an exhausted parent’s attempt to quieten a curious child. When we’re young we’re full of questions, the world is a fascinating mystery and life full of wonder. How good would it be to return to that state without losing the gifts of maturity?
Perhaps curiosity is one of the keys to a happy life? The mistaken cat metaphor certainly seems to be be a red herring. So, is there a logical case in favour of more curiosity in your life? I think there is, and I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say I’m personally 100% convinced of it’s validity. If you’ll indulge me with a few moments more of your attention I’ll attempt to clarify.
A Logical Case For More Curiosity In Your Life
I’ll use a fictional case to make my point, however, although Nancy is a fictional character, the principles at work in her situation are common to scores of real life client case studies from my private EFT practice.
So Nancy wants to become a book editor. Currently she works as a nursery nurse. She doesn’t know anyone in the book business. She’s not published books, but she has edited her college newspaper and she writes a blog.
Nancy has two options in front of her. She can choose to make a statement about her situation or she can get curious about it. For example, she could say to herself;
“I’d really like to be a book editor, but it’s such a competitive field and I’ve no experience and no contacts, it’ll never happen.”
If she does this, Nancy is closing the door on this ever becoming reality for her.
Statements Fix Reality
If we decide something’s true then it’s like a full point at the end of a sentence on the edge of a cliff. There’s no way forward.
“I can’t do it.”
“It’ll never happen.”
A curious thing about human beings is that we have incredible resources when it comes to matching up our deep held beliefs with our reality. We are amazingly good at making ourselves right. If you believe something you want can never happen for you, if you really believe that, you’ll make it true. That way your beliefs and experience of reality remain congruent and you’ll feel some sense of order in the world. It won’t be the way you want it to be, but it will match your belief. By the way we’re talking about what you really believe, not what you’d like to believe.
There is another type of statement which has more to do with what you’d like to believe. They’re commonly called affirmations and were made popular by Louise Hay. Louise is marvellous and an inspiration to millions of people all over the world. She’s lovingly known as the Queen of Affirmations.
When I use affirmations basically I’m repeating something I want to be true, over and over in the form of a statement. If I can repeat the affirmation enough times so that I eventually come to believe it, the statement kicks in and my reality shifts accordingly.
The difficulty with affirmations is that the number of times we need to repeat an idea before we believe it, varies tremendously depending on how far the new belief is from our existing beliefs. If you’ve tried affirmations and found your results frustrating you’ve probably noticed the “Who are you kidding?” “This will never work!” “You can’t do that!” voice becoming even louder and more insistent.
That’s not to say affirmations don’t work, just that you’ll probably need some support with them. The best way, in my experience, is to work with recorded affirmations and listen to them on repeat as you sleep. I’ll write more on this in future blogs, if you’re curious you can sign up for my free newsletter so that you get regular tips and advice on ways to get unstuck and find peace with the past, including how to get hold of affirmations and best practice in working with them.
Questions Create Possibilities
So, statements in the form of affirmations are good, and let’s pretend Nancy has started using them. Maybe she’s downloaded some recorded affirmations and she’s got them on her smart phone. What else can she do to get things moving? Is there something that is free and doesn’t require any technology? There is, and it’s as old as life itself.
Curiosity in the form of asking the right questions will open up Nancy’s mind to new possibilities if she’s brave enough to ask them in the right way.
For example, every time she thinks about becoming a book editor, Nancy can ask herself questions like;
“How can I become an book editor?”
“What’s my next step towards becoming a book editor?”
She then lets the idea go.
Have you ever forgotten someone’s name. No matter how hard you tried it remains just on the tip of your tongue, but remained frustratingly out of reach? Later when you were washing the dishes and not even thinking about it, their name popped into your head. That feeling of relief and ease is the feeling of inspiration. It’s how Nancy recognises her next step as it comes to her.
She’s not trying to work out the whole picture right now. It’s too early in the process. What’s she’s doing is letting the idea take flight and waiting for inspiration to return to her.
From where she is now, working as a nursery nurse, she can’t see the whole plan. Nancy, just like all of us, will have to learn to deal with not knowing and the uncertain feelings that come along with it. All of that said, if it’s a real goal for her to become a book editor and not a fake goal that’s about proving herself worthy or pleasing her parents for example, she’ll get there by following each new step as it makes itself known.
As Nancy engages more and more with her natural inborn sense of curiosity she’ll find more and more ways to support herself as she works towards her goal of becoming a book editor.
There is a science to it. Curiosity is the essential ingredient that opens up new possibilities and gets the process started.
So, “care killed the cat” not curiosity. One further point of interest is that with the “curiosity killed the cat” metaphor comes a little used rejoinder “but satisfaction brought it back!” I’m not sure what to make of that. It’s certainly not easy to follow your dreams, but it is satisfying. It’s also not easy to live without dreams and ambitions so why not get curious about the possibilities for you? What’s the worst that could happen? You could end up back here with your life as it is now, or …. Curious?
© Mike Warwick 2014