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Thoughts on Curiosity

Building the skill of curiosity begins with the questions we deliberately ask ourselves. It is through this exploration that we naturally grow interest in others as well.

A Lost Value

Can you remember a time where the person you were talking to was really curious about you and asked you questions with the intent to truly listen to your answers?

Think about it. Your boss asked you how your weekend was but did she really give a shit? Your 80 year old aunt probably asked you 1000 questions at a holiday dinner but quantity of questions crushes quality of questions in most situation, likely to simply avoid silence.

What I am talking about is a time you can recall someone having true curiosity in who you are and in your experiences. Someone who is actually interested in what you are saying. Someone who asks you questions that build on the previous knowledge and answers to show a true understanding of what you are sharing.

In all likelihood, it is difficult to remember such a time. People, in general, simply do not have the time or space to be curious about others as they navigate the challenges and dramas of their own existence.

When I tried to look back and remember when I last felt like a person was really interested in what I have to say, I actually went straight to a time where I felt the exact opposite. In a conversation with someone I’ve known and loved my entire life this past week, in fact, I don’t think he let me finish one answer without interrupting with his own feelings or opinions. The questions end up feeling obligatory, things to fill the space that he doesn’t actually have to listen.

How about you? If you play the opposite card, can you remember a recent conversation where you felt the opposite of heard or understood? What about one where you may have failed to listen deeply and understand someone else? Empathy is a fun practice eh?

Where Curiosity Begins

Look, my goal here isn’t to be this negativity spreading asshole. Per usual, my goal is to build awareness. While the vast majority of my own experience with people shows a severe lack of curiosity in those interactions, I do have a partner who has shown me the beauty of true curiosity and understanding the past six years. I have seen my own lack of curiosity in others, and in myself, that leads me to being the person who seeks to be understood before understanding.

Fortunately for me, my partner has been incredibly patient (not sure how) and has helped me build awareness of the powerful connections that can be built when curiosity is a shared value. Having not grown up with this value, I still struggle with being curious about others. While I cannot change the people with whom I communicate, I have set out on a deliberate path to become more curious, realizing that it all starts with myself. It is in this source that something became quite clear.

Unless I become curious about myself, there is no way I can be curious about others.

It is in the self inquiry and self exploration process that I can understand myself. This is a scary and difficult process as I am certainly no cake walk to understand. Yet I can see that it is in the suffering of making sense of my own journey and experience that I will mature as an adult. This maturation process starts with questions.

In my experience, it is not that people don’t care. I think that people genuinely do care about others. What I believe is missing is the deliberate work necessary to better understand ourselves. A missing value of self-curiosity.

Ian Leslie, in his book “Curious,” writes that curiosity grows as we attain more information. Essentially, the more we know, the more we want to know. Well, if we begin to learn about ourselves and know more about who we are, it may be a pretty simple follow that we begin to want to learn more about the experiences of others.

I am going to refrain from bitching about how non-curious people corrode the fabric of our connections to each other as humans. While true, I think this is more a reflection of my own shame in past behavior than anything else. Know that I believe that I, along with the majority of society has a shit ton of work to do in this department of being curious.

Instead, I am going to focus on ways for us to be more deliberate about building curiosity in ourselves. These are my current practices and my hope is that this source process is helpful to those who value understanding, perhaps a bit more than being understood.

Methods of Building Self-Curiosity

As in many areas of maturation and personal development, the first step is becoming more self-aware. Curiosity is no different. Our ability to explore ourselves is contingent on how aware we are. How deep can we dive and how honest can we be with the questions about who we are, where we come from, and what drives our growth as adults? So often, we struggle with our negative emotions. Sitting with them and making sense of their origins is a difficult task when the appeal of distracting sunshine and rainbows lay ever so close and so easy.

Curiosity of ourselves requires the suffering of dealing with negative emotions. It requires that we ask the hard questions and face the fear of our own truths. We don’t necessarily need the answers, however, as definitive understanding is not a finite process. Instead, we simply need the awareness of knowing that we should keep exploring. Keep asking. Regardless of how scary and uncomfortable it may be.

You see, unless we have suffered through the exploration of our own negative emotions, shadows, or challenging processes, there is no way we can expect to thoroughly explore the emotions or processes of those with whom we hope to be curious.

Ok great, so we are self-aware(ish) of the importance of being curious about ourselves. Right on. We’ve begun the journey of self inquiry. Super. Now we go to work.

There is a deliberate practice to building the skill of curiosity, particularly for those (like me) to whom it does not come natural. One potential approach to this practice, that I have found useful, is through meditation. Now, I am no expert in the world of meditation, but I have come to recognize its value for self-work and increasing self-understanding. For those who haven’t yet discovered or come to terms with meditation as a valuable practice, let’s put it in the context of developing curiosity.

Forget all the bullshit judgement or stigmas that may have defined meditation in the past and try to see it as intentional thinking. In this space of intention, we have the ability to think however we need to think in a given moment. For the purposes of this article, meditation now becomes a space for deliberate time to question ourselves. Do it a few thousand times and poof! Curiosity! It’s that simple.

A bit more deeply though, a meditation practice, really is a deliberately taken time and space for a person to be mindful about a particular object, thought, or emotion. Space to think or not to think. To intentionally breathe or to just let your breath flow as it will. To focus or to let thoughts flow. It is an offering to your mind and body to disconnect or connect, honoring their needs of the moment.

For those of us who are looking to be more curious about ourselves, it is in meditation that we can both ask and answer freely. Again, there is no judgement of the answers or pressure to find solutions to whatever may come up.

Curiosity of self cannot happen during most of life’s activities. You’re not stopping and asking yourself a bunch of questions in the middle of a work meeting or while you’re watching the bachelor. This is what makes the time and space of meditation so important and valuable.

Meditation is a way to cultivate and work on the questions you have for yourself, intentionally, evolving the skill of this curiosity over time.

Yes, I realize that building curiosity in deep connection immediately screams for the need to ask someone else questions and listen deeply to their responses. While this is certainly true and I absolutely encourage and support this effort of curiosity as often as possible, I want to illuminate how deep connection with another can help us become more curious about ourselves.

As I have written about, our closest relationships can offer us a mirror of sorts, and give us the radically honest feedback we need to grow up as adults. Self-awareness is vital to anyone’s development but having a deep connection eases the burden of how much of our own energy is required in that work.

Having someone that we are genuinely interested in and who reciprocates that curiosity will naturally excavate things about both people in the relationship that may have otherwise laid dormant. It is an amplification process where both people exponentially increase the use of curiosity skills and thus the amount of questions being answered.

We benefit immensely from a partner, family member, or friend, capable and willing to sit in negative emotions with us. It is in these connections that we get help with new questions and ways to evolve the questions we ask of ourselves. If these connections offer honest observation and hold us accountable for our maturation processes, we are gifted an exponential curiosity of ourselves.

If we are fortunate enough to have relationships that offer deep connection, the skill of curiosity has another arena in which it can practiced and evolved.

Finally, and I’ve only discovered this one recently, the work we do with a professional coach can be a wonderful aid in the process of building curiosity about ourselves. In a bit of a combination of self-awareness and deep connection, a coach is both trained and paid to help us ask ourselves necessary questions that generate a path forward in our development as adults. It’s a pretty sweet deal.

A coach, not to be mistaken with a mentor or consultant, does not give advice or real guidance even. A coach creates the space for us to think for ourselves through their presence, deep listening, and powerful questions. A coach partners with us, in a thought-provoking and creative process, that inspires us to maximize our personal and professional potential.

In my experience working with a Master Certified Coach, I have been afforded the rare gifts of someone’s true curiosity and attention to my narrative and process. Through this attention, I have been challenged to think differently about my beliefs and biases. Sensing my tone of voice and attuned to my body language, my story and explanations are objectively absorbed so that the questions help me generate an understanding of myself that may have previously been unavailable.

It is amazing how little we actually know about ourselves until someone shows us a mirror.

In my experience, outside of the coaching sessions, I am compelled to keep thinking, to keep asking. My perspective shifts to holding myself accountable to someone who just spent an hour listening to me think out loud. I want to show up to our next session having made some progress.

Most importantly, the skill of my curiosity has grown as a result of the curiosity someone else has in me. I learn from questions asked of me that I may have never thought to ask myself.

The Infinite Value

Self-inquiry and the process of building a curiosity in ourselves is a value that I am committed to because I recognize the long-term impact of an interested way of being. What I’ve realized, however, is that it is not an easy skill to master. It takes a true understanding of patience, self-compassion, and humility to become curious about ourselves and, subsequently, of others.

On one hand, it is easy to see how important it is to better understand and connect with people. This, as one may expect, could prove quite useful at home or in the workplace where a deeper knowledge of partners, family members, coworkers, or clients will inevitably lead to stronger relationships.

On the other hand, and arguably even more beneficial, simply becoming curious about ourselves can offer the greatest gift we may ever possess.

Knowing who we are.

If we start there, who knows where the path of curiosity can take us.

If you feel a connection and would like to understand more about how it all comes together through deliberate work, Please check out my site for coaching, and self exploration programs at



Leader & coach deliberately focused on becoming a better human being each day. It is a process of slow growth, and it’s the only way -

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Alex Rood

Leader & coach deliberately focused on becoming a better human being each day. It is a process of slow growth, and it’s the only way -