I have always loved driving through a city at night. I look at the buildings with their lights on, and I wonder what the story is of the people in those buildings at that time. Is it someone working on a cleaning crew trying to get everything done quickly so he or she can get home to their family? Is it some harried executive trying to finish a project or proposal? Is somebody behind one of those windows looking out at the city as I am and thinking long thoughts? I wonder what the people in those buildings are thinking and noticing. I wonder what they know that they don’t even think about. What is their experience? Where do they come from? Where would they like to be? So many possibilities….
What do you wonder about? What makes you curious? What do you daydream about or imagine?
Many of the clients I see have lost touch with their curiosity. Anxiety and depression, in particular, can quash creativity. When we are depressed, there is no energy to find alternatives, and when we are anxious we can get too wrapped up in the problems to find creative solutions. When I have been in darker places in my life, it felt as though the situation would always be that way and that things would never change. I can always tell when I am coming back to myself because I start wondering about things and asking more questions. I can start to see possibilities and play with ideas in my head.
One of the ways that therapy can help is that a therapist can provide perspectives and possibilities at times when we struggle to come up with our own. I find, sometimes, that just the act of exploring a possibility helps to relieve depression. Sometimes just knowing that there might be an alternative is a huge help. It is so easy to get caught up in what is going on in our minds that we believe it to be Truth rather than a perspective or a temporary situation.
How can we regain a sense of curiosity and possibility? Sometimes it helps to engage in something you used to do as a child (playing a game, coloring, singing songs, playing with Play Doh) when you used to have more flexibility in your mind. Sometimes it helps to take a class, academic or otherwise, to utilize a different part of the brain. Maybe you’ve always wanted to take acting classes or learn Chinese or swing dancing…. Getting out and getting active can help as well. When our bodies are moving, our brains start moving, too. Spend time with other people, particularly kids, and look at how they see the world. Sometimes even physically changing your perspective can help. Get up high or down low. Go outside. Try some yoga. Scribble on a paper for awhile, bake some meringues, or try knitting or crocheting. None of these may sound appealing right now, but trying some of them may still help re-engage the part of your brain that finds possibilities and curiosity.