Curiosity creates space to reason. And reason will get you out of a crisis.
Anyone who has experienced anxiety, panic, grief, rage or despair may recognise the metaphor (and sensation) of a maelstrom - being swept up and flung around in a kind of stormy mental chaos, with no control over what is happening. It can be very frightening.
Is there anything you can do to help yourself, in a dark moment?
There is: get curious.
If you can start to observe what is happening - to become interested in it as an observer - you will have already started to direct some of your thinking away from and out of the chaos. Becoming curious and interested involves different kind of brain impulses to those associated with the crisis, and may start to bring that ‘crazy horse’ thinking under control.
Another useful thing to do is to become more attuned to tension you are creating, and make the decision to stop creating it, or at least stop it building up further.
In his book Freedom to Change, Frank Pierce Jones recalls twitching with anger at something his Alexander teacher (A.R. Alexander, in fact) was saying during an early lesson. He realised that by turning his attention to his neck and shoulders and stopping them becoming any more tense, he could
“carry on a rational conversation in spite of my inward agitation. It was altogether a different process from suppressing anger… The emotion… instead of building up to an explosive force, remained a potential for action but did not interfere with rational decision. The same procedure could be used to take the panic out of fear. Redirecting or containing an emotion in this way is not the same thing as relaxing or ignoring the stimulus, both of which would reduce the capacity for action if action should be needed.
“F.M. Alexander called this process ‘keeping in touch with your reason’.”
Taking the panic out of fear and keeping in touch with your reason.
What marvellous skills to develop and have available in your mental armoury.
Curiosity keeps life exciting.
Get curious. Stay curious.
Keep asking questions.