The Weird Power of Curiosity

John Wood, Founder of Rageheart

by John Wood

Somatic Experiencing and the power of curiosity and tracking sensations

Before Emily started working with her nervous system and survival response, she was clinically depressed and anxious.

She had regular panic attacks.

She hated her life.

In fact, she was so miserable and unhappy that she considered killing herself numerous times 😳

It got so bad that she had to quit her corporate job in the city and move back in with her parents.

I like to tell Emily’s story to show people that the nervous system approach works for all kinds of people… even extreme cases like Emily’s.

Like a lot of people with these symptoms, she tried all the typical tools…

  • CBT
  • journaling
  • SSRIs
  • yoga
  • meditation
  • vitamins
  • exercise
  • diet changes

But in her words:

“…these things only scratched the surface.”

Then on a whim, she stumbled onto the world of nervous system healing and that’s when things finally started to shift.

Equipped with a new understanding of her symptoms…

…as well as a powerful set of tools for getting her nervous system unstuck and out of “survival mode”…

…she got to work.

She got curious about her experience and started actively orienting to her environment (more on the weird power of curiosity in a moment).

She got better at being IN her body rather than in her mind.

And she learned to work with all her feelings and emotions, including and especially her aggression or FIGHT response.

Fast forward a few years and she’s now doing better than ever.

She’s no longer depressed or anxious.

She doesn’t take any medication.

She’s not suicidal.

She’s not living with her parents.

And after a lifetime of stalling out and procrastinating on what she wanted to do with her life…

…she now has the courage, hope and motivation to go after what she actually wants (instead of settling for what she doesn’t want).

She even quit her job, started an online business and moved overseas to Peru!

Here’s a pic of her hiking to Machu Picchu (one of the 7 New Wonders Of The World) in the mountains of Peru:

Emily hiking in the mountains of Peru.

In Emily’s words:

By using the nervous system tools, I was able to release the fight-or-flight energy from my nervous system and finally feel safe, relaxed, and go after what I wanted in life.

It was a game-changer.

…it beats all the other tools out there, because it helps you get to the root of what you’re feeling so you can release it. 10/10 most effective approach I’ve found in the mental health space by far!

What specific techniques did Emily use to get her nervous system unstuck and out of “survival mode”?

How did she “unleash the beast”?

One of the techniques Emily used is simple, childlike curiosity for her direct experience… not her thoughts about her experience 🧐

This is an important distinction.

Instead of getting caught up in thoughts about what was happening (“I’m feeling anxious”, “I’m so stupid”, “Why do I feel so bad?”, etc)…

…she focused on being curious about the sensory experience of these things.

That is…

She focused on the actual sensation in her stomach.

The clenching and the butterflies and way it all moved around rather than staying in one place.

She paid attention to her racing heart.

She observed her breath without changing or controlling it (taking a deep breath can actually keep the nervous system stuck in survival – more on that another time).

Curiosity is a simple thing… but it’s weirdly powerful.

If we can be curious about our experience, it’s a message to our nervous system that it’s safe.

In other words, it’s a subtle way to talk to our nervous system… to gently nudge it out of survival mode and into regulation and ease.

How so?

Think about it.

If we’re actually in a survival situation (like when a bear chases us through the woods), there’s no chance we’ll be able to be curious because we’ll be too busy running the hell away.

Our brain literally will not allow curiosity if we’re in immediate danger.

Do you see what I mean?

By cultivating curiosity, we cultivate a sense of safety… and a sense of safety is one of the cues or triggers that tells our nervous system that it’s safe to relax out of survival (fight/flight/freeze) mode.

Curiosity is just the beginning of working with your nervous system and survival response 😲

Other techniques include:

  • How to orient to the safety in your environment
  • How to cultivate safety by moving your body (especially your head and eyes) as if you’re already safe
  • How to use multiple points of awareness to drive awareness out of the mind and into the body (one of my FAVORITE techniques)
  • How to avoid overwhelm and “retraumatization” by controlling the speed at which things come up and release (an essential tool that isn’t usually taught in meditation and similar practices)
  • How to use the body’s sensations as a guide in decisions big and small (this is what it really means to trust yourself)
  • How to “drop” your kidneys and adrenals to deactivate the survival response (the kidneys and adrenals are central to fight-flight-freeze)
  • How to release fear, doubt and anxiety from the gut
  • How to down-regulate the nervous system at night so you can fall asleep easily
  • How to tap into your healthy aggression and fight response in a a healthy, contained way (so you can feel more motivated, driven and confident in your life)

Plus plenty more.

Want to release the fight-or-flight energy from your nervous system so you can finally feel safe, relaxed, and go after what you want in life?

Continue your journey here:



John Wood

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