Here’s a question for you. What’s wrong with the phrase “I don’t know”? (PS, you can use it on this occasion).
It’s a common phrase, and don’t get me wrong, sometimes we really don’t know the answer. What is the capital of Fiji? Or where would you find a three legged frog?
But in the context of making decisions about our own lives, and knowing what is best for us, the elusive “I don’t know” (hereonin referred to as IDK) is a terrible phrase that is used all too often. From the simple things like “What do you want for tea?” to the bigger questions such as “What’s your opinion on this…?” or “What are we going to do about [insert dilemma of choice]?” the IDK can leave us, and others, stumped for a way forward.
But that’s not the only issue. If you’ve ever heard the saying, thoughts create feelings create actions, the answer is right there. When we use the IDK, we are reinforcing a whole range of self-limiting beliefs and behaviours that are bound to make our life suck.
Where are you placing your trust?
Firstly, if you’re using the IDK in a way that continuously gives someone else decision making authority, what are you telling your brain? You are telling your brain that you trust THAT person to make the decision. But guess what? You don’t trust YOURSELF to do the same job.
The implications of this are profound – you are reinforcing the belief that you are not good enough to come up with the right answer and that, actually, you would rather place other peoples’ knowledge and expertise before your own.
Trust, in my opinion, is the foundation for health. If you don’t trust yourself, your body will follow suit. And again, in my opinion, it is linked to a whole range of autoimmune and chronic conditions. How can your body function properly if you are constantly coding everything you do as untrustworthy?
You are not perfect and you don’t have to be.
Another one of the reasons people unwittingly use ‘IDK’ is the sneaky belief that ‘I want others to approve of me and in order to achieve that I must do everything perfectly.’ When you use the IDK in this way, you are activating a self-preservation mechanism that is designed to protect you from appearing flawed. You are saying “I don’t want to come up with an answer in case I am wrong.”
It may not surprise you that this is a top phrase of choice for perfectionists. But the problem with this is that you can’t be right all the time. It’s not possible. If you live your life from a place of perfectionism, you are never going to be happy with what you have achieved. Because you will always be discounting yourself and undermining your knowledge.
Here is something else that may surprise you. The world does not expect you to be perfect. In fact, look at it this way – you already ARE perfect; perfectly imperfect. Refreshing? Soak that up for a while.
Not everyone likes peaches
Just as the task of being completely perfect is impossible, so too is the task of pleasing everyone. You cannot please everyone.
No matter what you do, not everyone will like you or think well of you. Just like peaches in fact.
I love peaches. I love the juicy, sweet flavour, and the slightly furry texture. But not everyone likes peaches. And no matter how juicy the peach is, not everyone will warm to that peach. But the peach is okay with that. Because they are a peach.
Here’s another way of looking at it. Ever been in a relationship with someone where you see them for who they are – with all their flaws and you love them, even more for them? In fact, it’s their flaws that makes you love the person they are. Well that’s you. Turn that perspective and love onto yourself because you ain’t no different sunshine.
So wrong but it feels so right
Just think for a moment – how would it be, to make a mistake and embrace it with open arms. To know that “I have enough confidence in myself that no matter what I do, I know that the outcome will be perfect, just as it is.” How liberating would that be?
Here’s a little test for you. If you’re an “I don’t knower” I want you to set yourself a task. One day this week – go out of your way to speak up at every opportunity. Perhaps even when you know that what you’re saying is wrong. Keep doing that and tap into that feeling of “I’m doing something different just for me.” Perhaps even connect to the feeling of being a bit of a rebel. “I can say whatever I want and it’s okay – because I’M happy with it, other people don’t need to be.” Notice how that feels.
And remember, it’s okay to be wrong.
I bet you any money that the more you practice this, the more enjoyable it becomes. Because ultimately, you realise that the whole world isn’t going to come crashing down around you, and your friends are still there for you. In fact, you may even find that people like you all the more for it. When you are authentically you, people naturally warm to that. But careful now, don’t let that be your motivation!
Training your brain
Training your brain out of the IDK is really very simple when you know how. Ultimately, it is just a neural pathway that has been exercised very well. So it’s time to start building and exercising some new pathways that are conducive to living your best life, as opposed to one founded on uncertainty, insecurity and low self-worth.
Here are some other options:
Take a guess. It seems crazy doesn’t it? But actually, the answer is still coming from you and there is a lot to be said for our unconscious mind. It is thought that around 80-90% of how we operate is based on unconscious processes so very little of what we say, do or think comes from conscious decision making anyway. And the more you actively come up with answers, the more you are training your brain to do it easily and automatically in the future.
Open up your decision making neurology. Every morning, before you start your day, think about a time when you were super decisive – or even a time when you knew in your heart that you were right about something. Connect with that feeling and imagine taking that feeling through your day with you. The more you do that, the more you are building your neurology to access that naturally, without conscious thought.
And the rest…
There are lots of other ways you can start to train yourself out of the IDK and all the other tricksters that go along with it (perfectionism, people pleasing etc). These are also issues commonly addressed in the Lightning Process as we find that these are just some of the factors keeping people stuck with their issues. It’s amazing how limiting beliefs and thoughts like this can be responsible for the maintenance of such a wide range of issues like those we see on the seminars, yet the beauty of this is that we can resolve issues more quickly than we would ever expect because of it. But that’s another topic, for another time.
There was a time when I used to ask the question, “Why is the IDK so bad?” and the answer I always came up with was “I don’t know.” But now you have it – a whole bunch of reasons that when brought together are a guaranteed way to make our lives suck.
So go out there. Speak loud and clear. Be true to your own voice. Make mistakes and be proud of it while you’re there. This is you. All you in your own unique way – perfectly imperfect.
With thanks to Phil Parker for sparking the lightbulb moment around the IDK.