Curiosity Killed the Cat, But It Can Be Your Best Friend (Tool #1, Curiosity)

It’s no secret that I’m not into a one-size-fits-all system for dealing with the ups and downs of life. At the same time, it’s important for me to remind myself of the qualities I’ve strived to cultivate over the years: ones that have brought me a greater sense of passion, purpose, joy, and connection. This is the first in a new series of blogs that detail how I personally incorporate the seven tools of my book, Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman, into my life. Take a deep dive with me into the value of Curiosity, Awareness, Acceptance, Intuition, Choice, Manifestation, and Your Infinite Roadmap! And be sure to let me know in the comments how you personally grapple with each of these important tools. 

I was at a book circle not too long ago, reading from my book, Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman, with an intimate group of women who wanted to connect to their core truths and a new way of looking at themselves and their lives. During these kind of events, I’m always struck by how intelligent, wise, and insightful women from all walks of life are; they innately know who they are and what they want, but they don’t always feel they have the confidence or the tools to live in alignment with their truth. More often than not, they’re stuck in the idea that if there’s a “right” way to do it, holy hell, they’re definitely not doing it right!

I was talking about my own experiences with perfectionism and how it’s been one of the hardest things for me to get over in my life. Ask my family or my team members! I still struggle with it and get caught up in my own personal “should.” I noticed that as I was sharing about my life, there was one woman in the group who seemed to be internally shaking her head at me. Her body language was closed off—her face was pinched in consternation, like she was in total disagreement with what I was saying, and her arms were crossed across her chest, like there was no way in hell she was buying anything I said. And sure enough, as I continued, she would pipe up and disagree: “Well, I don’t believe that,” or “I don’t agree with you,” or “That doesn’t make any sense.” No matter what I was saying, there was something in her that was just plain resistant to me.

I’ll never know why that was the case. Maybe she didn’t like my book or my message in general about women. Maybe I reminded her of someone who triggered her. Maybe self-help just wasn’t her thing! I found myself getting agitated and distracted by this woman’s vibe, which felt like a giant NO! flashing in red lights. Frankly, I was a little embarrassed that I had a naysayer in our midst, because now my energy was being distracted away from my book and focused on “fixing” the situation.

I’ve always come to recognize these moments as the most valuable, because they offer me an opportunity to work closely with the first tool of my book, Curiosity. I found myself softening when I remembered the value of not taking her words so personally, but using them to get curious about my own reaction. Why was I feeling so irritated? How was I taking in her resistance to making it mean something about me? Where else did I have trouble simply being with this kind of conflict (which felt eerily familiar)?

Then, I started to get curious about her. Who was she? What had she been through in her life? What were her convictions and life experiences? How had they shaped her ability to react to new information that didn’t fit those experiences?

As I dove into my curiosity, I felt my heart begin to soften with compassion for both this woman and myself. I realized in that moment that this spirit of asking questions and choosing curiosity over-reactivity is what invites connection—to ourselves, to others, and to this crazy messy world we live in. And as I let curiosity take over, I felt my irritation melt away. Over time, I noticed that this woman who seemed to be so adamantly opposed to everything that came out of my mouth was also starting to relax and simply enjoy being in the space. It was an awesome reminder that sometimes, the stuff we see as obstacles can be the real lessons we need to work with—as long as we stop to remember our tools!

To find out more about Curiosity and the other tools in my book, be sure to check out Your Messy Brilliance. Also, let me know how you have explored curiosity in your own life?  (Hint: I personally love connecting with curiosity when I feel triggered by other people, or even by some uncomfortable emotion I might be feeling.)

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About the Author | Kelly McNelis

Kelly McNelis is the founder of global community, Women for One, a speaker, coach, facilitator, and bestselling author of Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. With more than 25 years of experience as a nonprofit and small-business consultant, Kelly empowers generations of women around the world to build the relationships, community, and confidence they need to achieve their wildest dreams. She finds daily inspiration in spending time with her husband and children in her home outside of Seattle.

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