Can the curiosity that allows me to learn from myself, coexist with my judgements and beliefs?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

I am going to ask you to remember a time when you have said something like, “you can’t expect anything else from him,” “I told you.” When you say something like that it is implicit that you have a certain concept, a preconceived judgement and you believe you know what a person or a situation is like. That happens to all of us. Others have also made judgements about you. Perhaps as a result of a few moments together, they believe they know what you are like or what they can expect from you. And you will undoubtedly not agree with their judgement, because with some justification, you will say that those people cannot know you well, that they have never spoken in depth with you, nor with the necessary familiarity.

Do you believe that those people who already have some idea about you, feel curious to know more about you and to check whether there is anything more to you (qualities, vital interests, hobbies, abilities and concerns) that they do not know? And I am not talking about the desire to gossip.

They may be satisfied with what they believe they already know and finish there. Curiosity, that is, the intention to observe something without prejudice is not something that is very plentiful. Why observe, if I believe that I already know something?

That is how we normally work. I believe that I know the other people around me and even myself.

When I believe I know something I no longer feel the need to pay attention, like when we do not let someone finish saying something and we complete their sentence with what we think they are going to say. Instead of listening or asking, we assume, we judge and we believe. Curiosity is relegated to a stage in childhood when we are open to surprises and have no preconceived ideas.

However, without curiosity we do not progress in science, industry, politics or our knowledge of ourselves and of others. We will not find new solutions if we keep looking with the old eyes of memory. If you imagine that it is normal to think that a scientist who believes that he knows everything, cannot question things in order to progress why do you think that you know yourself perfectly when you are only scratching the surface?

It is very health to allow yourself to be curious, to be open and to question your judgements and prejudices and beliefs about everything and about you. Giving ourselves that opportunity allows us to know ourselves in depth without censure or preconditions. As we have two eyes and ears, direct one eye outwards and one inwards, one ear to listen to others and one to listen to yourself, with great curiosity and be willing to be surprised.