Are You Curious or Critical?
Continuing our conversation from yesterday’s blog post on how a fear of intimacy is affecting the most important areas of your life, today we’re talking about the importance of approaching yourself and others with curiosity rather than criticism.
As discussed yesterday, intimacy means true closeness with yourself, with others, with money, and with your goals in life. Intimacy means deep knowing, it means honesty and authenticity and vulnerability—you can’t be intimate and avoid the risk of failure or pain at the same time. I want to advocate for opening yourself up to more intimacy (and yes, more vulnerability and risk) because doing so will provide you with such a deep connection to yourself, to others, to money, and to your goals. You don’t need intimacy to live your life, but you do need intimacy to live your best life.
As you begin to get more intimate and honest with yourself about how you think about yourself, others, money, and your goals, I can pretty much guarantee that you will notice self-critical, self-blaming, self-shaming thoughts come up. Take it from a recovering self-critical perfectionist—you don’t have to believe everything these thoughts are trying to tell you.
Negativity and criticism shut down intimacy. Just think—if you’ve ever had a fight with your partner where you were both just taking jabs at each other for what you were each doing wrong, for all the ways you weren’t good enough or responsible enough or romantic enough, that fight is going to end with one of you on the couch and a couple days of little to no communication between you two. There’s no connection, there’s no understanding there—just criticism and blame. If that same fight had included far less blame and criticism and much more curiosity and genuine interest in where the other person was coming from, it likely would have ended in increased mutual understanding, connection, closeness, and intimacy.
When we’re critical towards ourselves, we aren’t honest with ourselves about our desires because we know we’ll shame ourselves for not having them yet, for not being good enough, for not meeting our own standards for ourselves, etc. If you could swap out criticism for curiosity, you would be able to open up a dialogue with yourself about WHY you don’t have what you want. What in you is preventing you from getting or keeping it? What fears do you have that are thwarting your goals? Asking yourself questions like these instead of berating yourself for not being good enough will deepen your relationship with yourself and increase your understanding of yourself, thereby making it exponentially more likely that you’ll be able to actually make the mental and behavioral shifts necessary to achieve your goals.
If you’re dissatisfied by an aspect of your life, get curious instead of critical and see where that gets you.