Curiosity: being other-conscious rather than self-conscious

Here is a previous article on curiosity

When we are curious we are not self-absorbed. Our attention, instead of being on ourselves and how we feel and what people think of us, is on the world outside us – on other people and on what is happening around us.

In the state of curiosity we take a break from that little dark room in our minds with all the chatter and analysis and doubts and hopes and irritabilities and guilts and resentments.

In the state of curiosity we take a holiday from self-absorbed thinking! We replace self-consciousness with other-consciousness.

Consider the implications of being able to be really curious whenever

  1. Somebody is critical or nasty
  2. You get things wrong – things don’t go according to plan
  3. You forget something
  4. You ‘find yourself’ in a negative mood – irritable or low

A key part if the NLP approach

Curiosity is a key trait in what we at Pegasus NLP call the NLP Attitude and gets special attention on our courses where people use a number of methods to more easily get into the curiosity state and mindset.

The method we use on the courses rely on using a number of NLP approaches which are best learned in a live workshop. But, with just a little determination and persistence it is quite possible to significantly enhance your ability to experience the benefits of being a lot more curiosity in your daily life.

This article will offer some suggestions on how you can do this. And, to make the ideas work, remember that is important that you experienced curiosity as an emotional state rather than as an intellectual concept i.e. you actually feel curious rather than just adopt a different way of thinking.

But why do we need to learn to be curious?

Because it is usually discouraged in children. They are, and many of us were, conditioned to stop bothering grown-ups with silly questions. They received curiosity-discouraging messages such as ‘curiosity killed the cat’.  And, most significant of all, they begin attending school.

After a first year or so of gentle learning-through-play the conditioning to pass exams begins.

Now creative thinking becomes discouraged in the pressure to get children to perform well so that the teachers and the school look good. The children must absorb as much information as possible per term.

Learning has now changed. It is about competition rather than discovery and they must strive to do better than each other in frequent examinations where their ‘intelligence’ is assessed by how much absorbed information they can regurgitate at the exam.

Henceforth and for the next 12-15 years wondering and daydreaming must be discouraged and replaced with purposeful and analytical and conclusion-focussed thinking. As Albert Einstein commented ‘It is a miracle that curiosity survices formal education.’

How to be more curious

In NLP we consider the ability to get into a particular state to be a skill. And, in the case of curiosity, it’s not even a new skill – we all have the ability to be curious even if it has been dormant  for a few decades. So it’s just a matter of waking up a few dormant neurological pathways!

Here are a few tips:

(1)     Develop the habit of recognising that you can learn from every situation, every setback, every surprise and, most of all, from everybody. Ralph Waldo Emerson observed ‘every man I meet is in some way my superior.’

(2)     Recognise the legacy of school conditioning in which the emphasis was on the absorb-and-regurgitate rather than on wondering and being curious. And resolve to re-connect with your natural ability to be curious.

(3)     Develop the habit of replacing typical self talk with comments such as ‘Now isn’t that interesting, how curious, I wonder what’s happened here, that’s fascinating, I wonder what would happen if…, etc.’

(4)     If you have been to NLP courses and know how to create self anchors make a list of lots of moments when you felt really curious and anchor these so you can re-access the attitude with ease.

(5)     If you have not been to NLP courses make an even longer list of moments when you felt really curious. And each day take two or three minutes to sit quietly and recall and relive just one of the moments from this list.

Here is the previous article on curiosity


  1. Tudor Barker on 9th May 2010 at 10:51 PM

    When I had my Model Shop one of the great pleasures was to see and be part of childrens and young people’s curiosity.

    Why does it do this, how does it do that, why not do it this way.

    It is something that I miss a great deal, just honest curiosity and wonderment.

    Curiosity is the greatest gift we have.

  2. NLP Cause and Effect on 22nd May 2010 at 4:32 AM


    “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – e.e cummings

    Curiosity is timeless; it always was and always will be. It transcends race, religion, politics, finance, culture, bias and prejudice.

    Curiosity allows us to look beyond our eyes, “out there”, and to arrive at a place of originality, newness – a basic reality from an untainted perspective.

    Ben Tien

  3. Reg on 22nd May 2010 at 8:36 AM

    Hi Ben: thanks for the e.e cummings quote – I’d hadn’t come across it before. It’s not dissimilar to our own (i.e. in Pegasus NLP) version of the NLP Atttitude:

    Curiosity, Wonder, Desire to Learn, Adventure, Humour and Fun.

    Where I’d disagree with him in in putting self belief in first – I’d say self belief is already there – just suppressed under years of conditioning to believe not in self but in others….

    …and that developing these natural child-like qualities allows our innate belief self to emerge from under all than negative conditioning.