image by wallyg
We live in a society where strong opinions are valued. You meet people who seem to know what they want, and it makes them appear solid. As if they know who they are, where they belong, what their place in the world is. People who have no idea what they want, who don’t know what side they are on about any issue, they appear weak, indecisive, not to be relied upon.
Most people understand that, and so they pretend to have the answers. They pretend to know everything. They proclaim popular opinions, or most radical opinions, or most neutral opinions as their own.
The cost of this pretence is high, and often people don’t see it until they have wasted years pretending. Just to fit in. Here are the reasons why you should stop doing that. Today. Right now.
Three Reasons Why You Should Be Open to Saying, “I don’t know”
1. You May End Up Fooling Yourself
Fake it till you make it is the prescribed advice for everything from work to relationships. But the price of faking it is that you may come to believe your own lies. If you pretend to know everything, if you pretend to have all the answers for the benefit of others, if you pretend to care for values because it’s the done thing, then all that pretending leaves you no time or emotional space to actually figure out your own truths.
2. Questions Are the Beginning of Answers
We are led to believe that saying, “I don’t know” somehow makes us appear less-intelligent, or less-able than we actually are. Saying, “I don’t know” may be difficult. It may even foster a sense of inferiority, but get past that, and you can use that “I don’t know” to truly acquire knowledge. Questions are the starting point. You can search for answers to your questions, and when you have those answers, they will be based on true understanding, not merely pretence.
3. It Leads to Wisdom and Maturity
I think you’ll agree that Socrates was one clever bloke. And yet, this is what he said:
The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
I’m sure he knew some things. As no doubt you do. But the point is, ultimately, none of us actually know much about life. We are not supposed to, because then it would be like reading the end of story first. If we knew everything, what would be the point of taking actions, learning from them, enjoying the successes and getting up after failures?
Life is supposed to be a mystery. As much as control freaks (me included) would like to plan it, and have specific goals and visions, all you can do is just keep trying. It doesn’t make you a loser not to be ready for everything life throws at you, or not to have all the answers. It makes you human. Accepting that limitation by saying, “I don’t know” is what frees you up to listen to what life’s saying, the lessons it is giving you through your experiences.
Saying “I don’t know” is the beginning of wisdom.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE TODAY:
Journal about how you feel when you have to say, “I don’t know.”