How Curiosity Just Might Save the Day!
When I first moved to France, I lived in a stinky apartment. It smelled of sewer gas. I only lived there for one week, because it was unbearable for me. I was able to get out of my contract with a certificate from the doctor.
Disaster averted. But this incident was not without consequence.
The issue arose when I had to decide where I would live for the rest of the year. I was in an unfamiliar environment, and everything swirled around me like a tornado. I’d just moved from the United States to France, and my emotions were all over the place, excitement, anxiety, pride, and of course, fear. I didn’t know anyone. My lodging, which I’d secured for a year, had fallen through. And, while I spoke and understood French reasonably well at that point, being out of my element made it difficult for me to think clearly and communicate effectively. I was in a foreign country all by myself, and my apartment was uninhabitable. What was I going to do?
I found another apartment on the internet. It was more expensive than I wanted to pay, but I signed a lease for a year because I allowed my one sense of fear to sway me and to act without thinking it through and weighing other options.
The new apartment was excellent, and I had no problems with it, but I wound up paying more than I should have for it because I relied on the emotion of fear to guide me. Each month when I paid the rent, I regretted my decision, my savings were dwindling faster than I had anticipated. Renting this new apartment was an expensive lesson, but it helps me be aware that I don’t have to take or perhaps shouldn’t take immediate action when I feel afraid or trapped.
I journal to express my emotions and outline options or I sleep on it or I share what I’m going through with a trusted friend to get a different perspective. I do one or all of the above. But above all, I remind myself that there is always an alternative to the one thing I think must happen.
Changing apartments wasn’t the first time I’ve had buyer’s remorse or made a subpar snap decision. There have been other times in life when I let one emotion guide my next steps.
More recently, I experienced a lesson that was less costly but painful still. During my morning walk, I felt something in my shoe. Thinking it was a pebble, I removed my shoe, turned it upside down, and shook it. Nothing came out. I placed my hand inside the shoe, and I felt a slight protrusion on the insole of it. These sneakers must be defective, I thought. My mind raced and darted to the worst-case scenario: Dammit, now I’m going to have to buy a new pair of sneaks. I replaced my sneaker and continued walking, feeling a bit annoyed.
A few minutes later, the pain I felt on the sole of my right foot was unbearable, so I investigated further. I turned my foot over and there, lodged in the rubber of the sole, was a big rock. I scraped the sole of my shoe across the asphalt, dislodging the rock.
I took a few steps, and I experienced immediate relief. Problem solved.
Relief and satisfaction washed over me. Thank God. After all, I won’t have to fork out money to replace my fairly new pair of shoes! I’d solved the problem, and my curiosity evaporated.
But the next day, a few minutes into my walk, I felt a sharp pain in my right foot, exactly where I’d felt the pain the day before. Oh no! What could it be now? The fleeting sense of satisfaction and relief that I’d felt only 24 hours earlier came back to me and then instantly disappeared. The memory of it was replaced by irritation. Maybe I will have to replace my shoes, after all.
I walked a couple of minutes further, unwilling to head back home and get behind in my day. The pain grew more intense, so I found a boulder on which to sit and see what was going on. I turned my foot over and saw wedged in between the rubber molding, exactly where the rock had been lodged the day before, a piece of metal. My mind flashed to an image of a car tire punctured by a nail.
I looked around the area to find something with which to remove it. I grabbed the nearest stick and tried to extract the metal object. It was not the right tool to pull out a skinny metal rod. I dropped the twig and attempted to pull out the metal rod with my fingers (as disgusting as that was), but I couldn’t get a good grip on it. I did manage, however, to pull it out slightly. I stood and applied a little pressure to that foot. I could still feel something, but it was not the same pain I had felt minutes earlier.
I took a couple of steps to see if I would be able to go on. If I walk gingerly, I thought, I’ll be able to finish the rest of my walk.
I honestly did not want to have to head back home. So I continued on. Every once in a while, the object pushed into my foot, reminding me to be more careful. The closer I got to home, the more I could envision the pair of pliers I would use to extract the offending object. I walked gingerly, and a half-hour later, I arrived home.
I headed straight for my toolbox, removed the pliers, and started the operation. It was fast and painless. Afterward, I held the pliers up to the light and admired the sharp, inch long piece of metal in its grip. I felt a little stupid that I hadn’t noticed it sooner, that I hadn’t finished the job the day before. But when the pain went away after I’d dislodged the rock, I did not feel the need to examine the bottom of my shoe further visually. I relied on the sensation of pain to tell me that I’d resolved the problem entirely.
Relying on one sense can lead you astray!
Remember this the next time you face an issue to which you’d like a speedy resolution, and instead of relying on one sense (fear, pain, or whatever the discomfort), be curious and dig a little deeper. Use your eyes, ears, intuition, logic, or other inputs to help you nip the problem in the bud completely and avoid the prolongation of your initial pain.