Don't judge, stay curious

It’s surely not one-size-fits-all as life unfolds right now.

While isolation is a delicious drink of solitude for introverts like me, it’s a time of great challenge for my extroverted friends. 

Even for me, a person who loves alone time, I find myself experiencing periodic feelings of loneliness, irritation, and grief. Honestly, I find my emotions to be all over the map lately. I’m OK until I’m not. 

From the many connections I have, I know I’m not alone. It’s quite normal right now to feel emotionally labile. It’s easy to feel even more alone with our feelings, like we’re the odd-person out.

We’re each wired differently, and our nervous systems require something different to feel balanced. Uncertainty doesn’t bring out the best in most of us.

The internal and external pressures we’re each facing are different. The meaning of what’s happening and our individual resources, both internal and external, are greatly varied, sometimes changing in a moment.

While some have lost their employment, others are overwhelmed by what they’re facing in trying to work safely in new ways. People who’re working because of the essential nature of their jobs wish for the space and reprieve others are complaining about. Some feel isolated and lonely, while others are doing just fine.

British writer, Damian Barr’s tweet summed it up beautifully when he wrote, “We are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just the one oar.”

We’re all floating on an unknown ocean during this storm. The size of the waves easily obstructs our view of others. We may be floating on calm waters, safely housed in security, while others are weathering a storm we can’t see; depending on where we’re at in the ocean. 

I find my ability to cope changes, depending on the day and the challenge in front of me.

The barriers created by isolation easily limit our understanding of one another’s experience of the pandemic. It’s pretty easy to sit in judgment of others when we don’t understand what’s really happening for them.

Many people are experiencing confusing emotions, and find themselves more easily moved to tears or feeling quite irritable. It’s easy to take unusual behaviours and responses of others personally. 

It’s not personal; they’re just trying to do the best they can, given the unique pressures each is experiencing. It’s an important time to ‘take things lightly,’ and to become curious, instead of judgmental.

This is the perfect time to adhere to my friend Jane Ritchie’s sage advice, “don’t judge, stay curious.” This mind-set has served me well for many years now.

Curiosity opens up our awareness to look past the surface, and opens us to the potential of learning more. We may find beneath a reserved or prickly exterior, a person who could benefit from caring presence and understanding.

We can use this time of separation to create connection in different ways, being a safe port for others when it all becomes too much. Learning to be open and gentle with the different ways we’re experiencing life allows us to feel more connected instead of isolated, despite the physical distance.

Right now, it’s important we find ways to soothe our nervous systems, to bring ourselves back to balance when the waves are throwing us about. 

Learning to stay open and curious, and allowing others the grace and understanding we, ourselves would hope to receive, allows us to calm the waters, not only for others, but also for ourselves. 

The original artwork is by Jane Ritchie’s daughter, Joanna Clark of Vancouver. 


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About the Author

Corinne is first a wife, mother, and grandmother, whose eclectic background has created a rich alchemy that serves to inform her perspectives on life.

Corinne, a registered nurse with a master’s degree in Health Science, is a staff minister with the Centre for Spiritual Living Kelowna, and a hospice volunteer. She is an adjunct professor with the school of nursing  at UBC Okanagan, and is currently teaching smartUBC, a unique Mindfulness program offered at UBC, to the public. She is an invited speaker and presenter.

From diverse experience and knowledge, personally and professionally, Corinne has developed an extraordinary passion for helping people to gain a new perspective, awaken, and to recognize that we do not have to be a slave to our thoughts or to life; we are always at a point of change.

Through this column, Corinne blends her insights and research to provide food for the mind and the heart, to encourage an awakening of the power and potential within everyone.

Corinne lives in Kelowna with her husband of 41 years, and can be reached at [email protected].

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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