Monthly Archives: November 2011
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that all the things I’ve said “I Don’t Know” in response to – I actually did know.
I’m not talking about knowing the answers to advanced physics or calculus theorems.
I’m talking about knowing the answers to questions that pertain to the heart.
You do know what you want to do.
You do know what you want to become.
You do know what’s possible for you.
But the “I Don’t Know’s” keep us in a place of inaction, confusion, inertia. They keep us stuck, legitimized in our excuses, off the hook.
When you’re asked a question, and your response is, “I Don’t Know,” wait for the second answer.
It’s the true answer that you don’t want to say out loud.
You judge it. You’re scared of it. You think other people might judge you. It might hurt someone’s feelings. You might have to get honest in a way that requires you to change something in your life that isn’t working. It might bring up feeling.
I have a friend who was in a bad relationship. I asked her why she didn’t just leave the guy. Her response, “I Don’t Know.”
Of course she knew. But having to say what she knew required her to confront areas of her life she didn’t want to face (the fear of being alone, the admittance she deserved better, the realization that her self-worth was determined by another person). She thought by not acknowledging it, she wouldn’t have to face it.
Denial postpones. It doesn’t prevent.
I ask an actor why he hasn’t called his agent. His response, “I Don’t Know.”
Look behind that answer. What are you scared of? What would it mean to actually initiate movement in your life in an area that’s stalled out? What would it mean to speak honestly about your needs being met and what you deserve? What would it look like to be liberated from the imprisonment the “I Don’t Know’s,” lock us into?
The next time you say “I Don’t Know” to something. . . Stop. See if you can identify the pay-off in responding that way.
Then wait for the second answer.
What would it feel like to give that answer a voice? A place to be expressed? An opportunity to be shared?
I don’t know.
“There are no short cuts to any place worth going.” ~ Beverly Sills
When you assume you make an ass out of you and me.
Because assumptions aren’t based in fact.
But we love to make them because they pull us out of the present moment and send us speeding into a projected future that distracts us from now. We’re so familiar with letting our mind run rampant into the future that we spend an inordinate amount of time and energy there. And there’s a pay-off. (But more on that in a minute.)
Assumptions often get us into trouble because they generally stem from our fixed conditioned mind patterns that assume things incorrectly based on our paradigms of doubt, fear, cynicism and scarcity-thinking.
We assume things without having the breadth and scope of the whole picture. We get triggered and our minds run on autopilot, misinterpreting events. So we rewrite history in our heads.
We don’t book the job or an agent rejects us. We assume we suck. We assume they didn’t like us. We assume we lack talent.
These are assumptions based on our inner paradigms that keep us locked into a closed-system. That system wants us to remain closed because if we had to give up assumptions, we might have to give up our conditioned beliefs about ourselves that we’ve been holding onto for a long, long time.
You know the ones. They suck. They don’t serve us. They make us feel like shit about ourselves. But we would rather (unconsciously) stay in that negative feedback loop that assumptions provide, than step into greater clarity and empowerment. Step into who we can become.
You mean there’s a part of us that would rather remain jaded? Cynical? Bitter? A complainer?
I know it’s hard to swallow but it’s true. Because if we had to give up those assumptive responses to events occurring in our lives it would mean we’d have to rewrite our story. And who wants to do that? It takes work.
We’d be held accountable in a new way. We’d have to step into our power. We’d have to show up in the world in a more conscious way. We’d have to take responsibility and rise to the level we really desire – but are often scared of – in our life and career.
But of course, the deeper part of you wants to do that. That’s why we’re all here on this planet.
To step through to the other side. But in order to embrace that new, undiscovered, unknown, infinitely creative domain – you have to give up assumptions.
About yourself. Your life. The business. Success. People. Money. The way things “work.” Your past. Your future. In short, lots of things.
One of the easiest ways to get there is to begin questioning everything you tell yourself. Take a look at where your thoughts and beliefs come from. Discover that many of them are based on false assumptions about life.
What would happen if you could try this for a week?
Assume you can do it. Because you can.
“Begin challenging your own assumptions. Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in awhile, or the light won’t come in.” ~ Alan Alda
When we’re on the outside looking in, when we compare ourselves to others, when we listen to the glossy, photo-shopped stories the media feeds us about people who’ve “made it,” we often feel like there’s something wrong with us. We lack what other people have.
I remember early on during my spiritual path when I first started learning to meditate (and even after one of my first trips to India), I struggled with questions of faith. I thought I would wake up one day and all my doubts and insecurities would be gone because I was on a “path.”
They didn’t. In fact, they got louder.
And when I compared myself to the images and stories being spun of saints who seemed to have conquered all their fears, I felt even worse about myself.
Similar to when I was in my 20’s starting to act. No one in any of my classes talked about their struggles with the work. It was always about discussing the “character arc” and objectives. Here I was feeling doubt and loathing, excitement and dread – all these contrary emotions – but no one else was talking about them.
Years later I read an autobiography of the spiritual icon (and Nobel Prize winner), Mother Teresa. It was a watershed moment. The woman who had been publicly portrayed as the most saintly and devout of nuns actually had many dissonant feelings about her faith. She struggled and felt alone and lost. She said she was hypocritical because the outward face presented to the world was smiling and beatific, but inwardly, she often experienced absolute confusion and disbelief. Who would have thought that the woman who was considered the most faithful woman in the world actually struggled bitterly with her faith?
The moral of this story is twofold. First, and foremost, because of her contrary thoughts, Mother Teresa was even more a hero because she continued to do such serviceable work. She helped millions. Her inner battles didn’t leave her feeling sorry for herself or inert. They didn’t stop her from doing good. She persevered.
It also is yet another example of how we aspire to be like the often air-brushed images that are sugarcoated and fed to us making us believe that people who are achieving great things have something extraordinary that you and I lack.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to glamorized images. We need to realize that the same stuff you and I struggle with is the same stuff everyone on the planet works through.
The true heroes are the people whose work is not abandoned because of their fears or doubts. They’re heroic not so much because of the work they do (although that itself can be inspiring) but because of their honesty and bravery in pushing through their challenges to continue creating the work.
Compare yourself less.
Realize the hero is your own hero within.
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.” ~ Mother Teresa