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It’s OK Not to Know

Why do we feel that we need to ‘know’ or have the right answer in order to feel safe?

In our desire to appear successful to ourselves and others, we may feel we are supposed to be the expert in whatever we are doing or saying. Yet, when we don’t know the answer, or we make a mistake, we find ourselves hiding it from others or blaming them in a twisted effort to keep from losing our credibility, love, and support. For many of us, as children, when we had the wrong answer or made a mistake, the consequences were not very desirable. We may have been ridiculed, ignored, micromanaged, humiliated, criticized, shamed, neglected or simply left in the dark. Those early experiences taught us it’s unsafe not to know or have the right answer with ourselves or others, so we work hard to stay ‘in the know’.

As humans, one of our greatest fears is that we don’t really know what’s going to happen next – including our last breath.

To feel like we are in control, we may fill ourselves with knowledge, or seek it from others to try to predict what is going to happen to calm our inner fear. This is why many of us are addicted to watching the news, the weather channel or on social media to keep up. While we may not always like the information, we feel safer by knowing what’s happening to better predict what might happen to us in the future.

We also ‘stay in the know’ by telling stories about ourselves and our experiences based on what has happened in the past and project them into the future. Stories like “my planes are always delayed”, “you don’t know how bad the traffic here really is”, “she never spends enough time with me”, etc. are more powerful than we think. Not only do they create more of the same experiences, but they also close the door to creating new ones.

To create new experiences, we need to be in a place of ‘not knowing’. We must open up to the possibility that things do NOT have to be the same as they were in the past.

This requires us to move into a state of not knowing and our ego hates this. It feels out of control and unable to protect us there not realizing this is the place inside where we create uplifting experiences for ourselves. Instead of replaying a painful past and projecting it into the future – we can create joyful experiences for ourselves from the place of not knowing.

The present moment is the place of not knowing. It is the moment when we drop all focus on the past or future and we allow ourselves to bring our whole attention into right now by merging with our experience. This is where our curiosity can arise as we explore what we want and don’t want, based on what we are experiencing right now. We may refer to the past to further clarify what is and isn’t OK for us going forward, but that’s it. This is the essence of a learning mindset – the willingness not to know what is going to happen with a strong intent and focus on what we do want to experience going forward. With no preconceived ideas, we can clearly see what is before us and within us, including our thoughts, feelings, physical senses, and inner energetic awareness. We can use all of these information sources to experience what feels best to us in each moment and let that be the most important knowing we have.

I’m here to assure you that there is nothing wrong with not-knowing. In many ways, it’s OK to just allow things to unfold exactly as they are. You can use what is happening right now to determine what you want to change or keep based on what feels best to you right now. The more good feeling right now moments you have, the more future good feeling moments you automatically create. AND you get to feel good now regardless of what happens in the future. It’s time to shift our awareness from predicting our future based on our past, into honoring and responding from what feels best to us in each moment.

How will you let go of needing to ‘know’ today?

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Wendy Watson-Hallowell | The Belief Coach
Wendy Watson-Hallowell | The Belief Coachhttps://www.belief-works.com/
WENDY is passionate about enabling individuals, organizations and communities to value themselves and each other in the ongoing process of change. Wendy has guided hundreds of individuals and over 750+ public and private sector organizations to achieve tangible increases in impact and performance. Her successful practice in mentoring and coaching has led to authorship of the book, ‘Live a Life You Love and Make a Living Doing It’. Over the last 30 years, Wendy’s skills have been honed in leadership roles at MTV Networks, The Rensselaerville Institute, and a variety of community based projects in her town. In 2015 she launched BeliefWorks and offers Belief Coaching as a way to address the root cause of what limits the results we can achieve both personally and professionally. This is an 'upstream' solution to change. Instead of changing limiting behavior, she focuses on changing the limiting beliefs that drive that behavior. In all cases, her clients and partners speak to the specific increases in achievement that her consulting, coaching and partnership roles make possible.

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6 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Very interesting thoughts here, Wendy. I have a little different logic about letting go. I look at it as wanting to learn. Because the best way to learn is realizing we don’t know and have to/must find the answer. Thank you for the thought-provoking article.

  2. Interesting point of view.
    The state of ignorance is the cause of all illusions, of all fantasies, of all blunders; yet the state of knowledge does not mean knowing more. Ignorance is the cause, but knowing is not the remedy, knowing in the sense of intellectual knowledge: we can know more and more, while remaining the same. Knowledge becomes an addiction: we continue to accumulate it, but the being in which we accumulate it remains the same. We know more, but we are not more.
    When we observe the fact without knowledge, then we can learn. Only in this way is learning creative; it’s something new.
    Ultimately, learning is an experience of humility

  3. The state of ignorance is the cause of all illusions, of all fantasies, of all blunders; yet the state of knowledge does not mean knowing more. Ignorance is the cause, but knowing is not the remedy, knowing in the sense of intellectual knowledge: we can know more and more, while remaining the same. Knowledge becomes an addiction: we continue to accumulate it, but the being in which we accumulate it remains the same. We know more, but we are not more.
    When we observe the fact without knowledge, then we can learn. Only in this way is learning creative; it’s something new.
    Ultimately, learning is an experience of humility.

    • Hi Aldo and thank you for your insights. I want to be clear – the kind of knowing I’m talking about is not intellectual knowledge nor any knowledge based on the past or future. It’s simply the full awareness and knowing of our own subjective experience in the moment. If we can stay in touch with what’s happening for us in the moment we can choose from that place of presence not from the mind that wants to KNOW so it can keep us safe. That is the illusion my friend.

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