From Judgment to Curiosity – Part Two: The Surprise Ending

[If you haven’t read Part One, go to: The Shift]

The next time I picked Sam up at school, just as we got out of the car at my house, he actually used the word charity again, so I asked him where he learned it. We sat down on the front porch stairs in the sun as we talked. He said, “When we went to an animal shelter on a school trip, they told us it was a charity.”

Now, my mind turned completely around. I wondered if he somehow had associated the idea of giving money to help homeless animals with some kind of negative feeling or sense of poverty when using our money for his gift. When I asked him about it he said. “Oh, No, Grandma, I just wanted you to know that if I hadn’t had your money I would have worked to get it myself.” Then he said, “Grandma, I just love it when we talk like this.”

All I could think was, “What would I have done to Sam if I’d continued to feel hurt and angry? If I had said something to him about being ungrateful?” How could I have been so wrong about him being rude and ungrateful? Well, he was running fast when he blurted that he didn’t need my charity to get the iPod. How often do we hear things and realize later the person meant something entirely different?

In that moment I realized how unconsciously I had moved from feeling hurt to judging Sam. I was already setting the stage for saying something to him that would have created power struggle between us over what I had assumed to be his lack of appreciation.

My realization expanded into in a broader insight about how often I let hurt feelings make me feel victimized, which then invariably entwines the hurt with judgment and morphs them into power struggle. In retrospect, the shift seems completely obvious. In the moment it was completely unconscious. I only knew I felt hurt.

A second realization came to me. I had been using and recommending the question I offered in the Curiosity Blog: “What would I want to know if I were truly curious right now?“ I had experienced how this question could move me—and others—from a place of power struggle to one of curiosity. But this time it was a belief I held that had moved me.

I began to see countless options for shifting from judgment to curiosity. We could ask ourselves whatever question fit the moment, like, “What would I want to know . . . if I weren’t afraid right now? . . . if I trusted that you care about me? . . . if I weren’t intimidated? . . . if I saw my own part in our conflict?” Beyond questions, I saw that thoughts, feelings, and beliefs could also transport us out of power struggle to curiosity—as instantly as hurt can draw us in. We may still need to deal with hurt or anger, but we can do so from a place of integrity and openness. In my case, I discovered there that my hurt had no cause outside my own mind.

7 thoughts on “From Judgment to Curiosity – Part Two: The Surprise Ending

  1. Beautiful, practical, real. As a very involved Nana, I felt for you. It’s the isolation of our churning minds that produces conflict at times. What a difference your curiousity and willingness to dialogue made in your understanding and realtionship. And Sam? Totally oblivious to the fact that he’d inadvertently pained his dear Grandma. I’ve seen wounds fester and grow while the other player is experienced as heartless, cruel and uncaring when in fact they were simply oblivious because the presumed intent of a comment or action didn’t exist. Thanks for sharing such a vivid illustration and responding to my request for examples of how to remain curious.

    • Oh, hi. Are you Deborah? I went to Family Resolutions but couldn’t find your name. Thanks so much for reposting my blog. And thanks for your beautiful comment. You are so thoughtful. Where do you live? I’d love to connect with you more.

      Also, I read the blog to Sam (who is now 13) to get his permission to post it since it was about him even though I was the one with the lessons to learn. We talked about just what you said, about how he probably didn’t remember it at all because is was not a big deal in his life, just a few sentences, but it was big for me because I had something to learn from it. After I read the blog to him, his immediate reaction was “Awesome, Grandma!

      • Hi Sharon. Yes, it’s me, Deborah! I thought hitting “repost” would put it into my blog on my website but apparently that’s not how it works! I’ll figure that out. Thanks for the kind words. I practice in Michigan, with offices in St. Joseph and Grand Rapids. My website is http://www.familyresolutions.us. By the way, I have a colleague I’ve convinced to sign up for your webinar this Wednesday. Do we have to be at the same computer to qualify for the “Register 2” rate? Looking forward to that! Thanks. Deborah

  2. Sharon,
    As always, you help increase our curiousity and reflection. I often remind parents not to answer too quickly to certain questions before asking for more information from children, why they want to know, what an answer might mean, etc. That way, parents can speak to the real. emotional question in the child’s heart, if not his/her conscious mind. The parent benefits from understanding the chld more and the child can benefit from learning how to ‘research’ his own questions to further self-awareness This is especially important for divorcing/divorced parents. Seemingly casual questions often stem from a child’s insecurity, fears, loyalties and so on.
    After reading your first blog now, CONNECTION comes to mind. Especially with others, we become more connected to them when we are interested enough to be curious. At the other end, if we’re not connected, we risk becoming that perverbial island. Curiosity, about others, ourselves, Nature, etc. is part of the adventure of our existence.
    Thank you, as always,

    Sharon Klempner

    • I love adding the word “adventure” to the list of words people have offered that give so much life to the word curiosity. I also love your comments about the difference it can make when parents are truly curious about what is behind the words their children say. It’s great to be reconnecting with you!

  3. Wonderful story, Sharon. A great lesson that I shall apply at work as well as at home. The following sentence in Deborah’s comment really jumped out at me: ” It’s the isolation of our churning minds that produces conflict at times.” When I was feeling hurt or angry about something another person had said or done my Mother would say “consider the source.” That can be interpreted two ways: show consideration for the person(s) who is the apparent source of my discomort, or consider it as just a remark made by a person and that remark is not necessarily the truth about me or the situation. Thank you both Sharon and Deborah for your comments and insights.

  4. I am new to this Blog, and I just want to say I feel blessed to have found this connection. My eyes have been opened and feel that now when I interact within my world I can feel powerful knowing I can control some outcomes by just understanding and examining more closely the “true” feelings involved. Thank you everyone for sharing what wonderful insight you have obtained with those of us not quite there yet.

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