“A first blog is a tricky thing. It sets the mood. If people are interested, they’ll come back.”
“Maybe I should start with something on the importance of goal setting? Or, how I came to work with curiosity? Or maybe, I should talk about that great article I read today.”
Around and around my head goes, curiously exploring all the possibilities. I can feel my Spidey-senses alive and alert, trying to feel their way in and figure out the best way to go.
Then, out of nowhere, things begin to change. A familiar pattern comes into play.
Brain fog sets in, quickly transforming into a deep physical exhaustion and almost instantaneously a sense of depression and heaviness builds. Within no time at all, I go from being excited about the potential of the blog to deciding it is a total and complete waste.
“Forget the blog!”, I decide.
Now, since you are reading this, you know that’s not what happened. Something obviously shifted, but what? To get the answer to that, we have to go back in time.
Just over a year ago, I was out walking with a friend and we were sharing our experiences with anxiety. I explained how I usually tried to get to the root of it through journaling. She told me journaling was a disaster for her, because it encouraged her to dwell. Instead, she found calling a hard stop to the perseverating thoughts and refocusing elsewhere was more useful.
As is often the case with me, I continued to think about our conversation long after the walk had ended. I knew journaling had helped me learn a tremendous amount about my anxiety, such as how it likes to creep into my life and stick to anything it can. However, I was also aware that my journaling was not reducing my anxiety. I had to ask, was it perhaps time to switch things up? Maybe, it was time for a new technique?
What would happen if I jumped off the curiosity-train for a bit? What would it feel like to stop journaling? How in the world would I distract myself from it? What would it mean to NOT get curious about my anxiety?
I could feel an experiment coming on!
The number one rule I have for experimentation is to keep it simple, so:
- In order to avoid questions of when and where journaling was allowed, I decided to stop it completely.
- Every time I found myself wanting to pull out my journal, I would disrupt the pattern by means of distraction.
- The initial trial period would be 1 month. Followed by evaluation and a possible extension.
I realised a number of things during the course of this experiment, but want to point out just a few here.
First, choosing not to get curious about my anxiety anymore, did not mean I had to turn my back on curiosity as a whole. Quite the opposite, the best way to disrupt the pattern was to allow my curiosity to lead me into pursuing other interests. The time I had spent journaling and focusing on my anxiety was freed up to explore new things (including building this website).
Second, disrupting my usual approach to something, can shake loose a new perspective. Learning to identify when I am stepping over the threshold into an established pattern and consciously choosing to step differently – even ever so slightly – changes how I land and opens up potential for learning.
Third, the journaling and getting curious about my anxiety had not been a waste. It had laid the foundation for this next step. The journaling had helped me understand the nature of ‘my beast’. Through it, I had come to recognize the pattern of its development. It thus allowed me to detect when it was time to switch over to this new ‘disruption’ technique.
Thus, once the brain fog started to hit when I was trying to write this first blog, I was able to see I was entering into that familiar pattern. Armed with that insight, I knew I could hit the hard stop button, disrupting that path I was on and focus elsewhere. Yes, the blog would not be ready to roll when I had hoped, but I had other things I was happy to do and a ‘crash’ was once again narrowly escaped…
Just as this walk with a friend offered me an opportunity to get curious about the potential of disruption, I hope to use this blog to extend regular invites to you to get curious and experiment. Below, you will find the first of these suggested experiments, though please feel free to design your own and share it with us as well.
Experiment with Disruption:
- Think of all the ways your body can move. Go ahead, I’ll wait…
- Now think of all the ways you actually DO move during a typical day. I am guessing this will be a lot shorter than the first list.
- Next, pick a realistic time period for yourself to do this experiment e.g., the next 10 minutes, an hour, a day, the next week.
- Task: Experiment with moving in different ways during the day.
This can be something quite simple, like walking slower than you usually do when you and your colleagues go for lunch. How does it impact you? Do you end up walking with a different group of people? Having different conversations?
If you’d like to share your experiences and insights, either jot them down here in the comments, drop me a line using the contact form, or tell me about it on our Coaching with Curiosity Facebook page.