For the most part, knowing is over-rated and over used.
Knowing IS necessary for being in touch with and clarifying our feelings, wants, values, purpose, what brings us meaning and what matters. We need to know these in order to set healthy boundaries. However, in other situations, needing to know often gets in the way.
So, what word best describes what perspective we have instead of knowing? Well, the obvious is … not knowing. Perhaps this list will help differentiate the shift being asked.
Knowing Not Knowing
linear, rigid fluid, curving
certainty uncertainty, ambiguity
planned, controlled spontaneous, curious, wondering, reflective
black and white, limited grey, unlimited possibilities
boxed in, trapped open, freeing
outcome based experience based
what happens if it doesn’t work out?! just try it
perfection just do it
judgemental open minded
head heart, intuition/gut
on our time, demanding on nature’s/higher power’s time; patience
should be, self will the way it is; God’s or Universe’s will
fear; worry trust; letting go; playful
Which list do you tend to work from? There are often imbalances in how we operate, which too much time spent in either list bringing its own set of consequences.
What are the origins of needing to know? Schools, good ol’ Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit-like games, as well as any expectation of knowing the latest forecast in casual conversations reinforce some level of knowledge. Our heavily masculine-principled, left-brain culture certainly emphasizes and rewards many of the ‘knowing’ traits. The difficulty arises when “I don’t know” brings up shame, embarrassment, pain and fears of abandonment. For many of us, ‘not knowing’ triggers negative cognitions of “not good enough,” “stupid,” or “not belonging”
And to compensate for such painful feelings and beliefs, we often strive to be good, even perfect, over ambitious, too focused on knowing, defending our knowledge, having to be right, correcting others, and proving ourselves, even to ourselves!
We Google directions – fair enough. However, start to question the need to look up something ‘just to know’ or ‘to be right.’ Does it really matter? Before you do, stop – How would ‘not knowing’ affect your sense of self and cause you to feel?
How comfortable are you saying, “I don’t know,” or, “I haven’t heard of that.”
When we re-balance our having to know, it opens the door to another side of our brain and psyche, welcoming shadow material traits (You mean I can miss the news tonight or just show and see!?) and encouraging personal growth.
Learning to live with ambiguity is learning to live with how life really is, full of complexities and strange surprises.. ― James Hollis
A willingness to question and wonder about, even the things we (think we) are sure about, can shake us out of complacency opening us up to understanding different and new perspectives, some we might have even previously shunned, actually preventing growth, change, and connection with others and Self. We can take a Zen or beginner’s mind, open to many possibilities, and humbling us to the mystery of what life brings rather than what we think we know.
Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity. – Gilda Radner