There are two ‘I don’t knows’. The intellectual I don’t know and the emotional I don’t know.
So what does this mean? The intellectual I don’t know is that part of our thinking mind that refuses to admit it does not know something. It is in a fearful state. So we think we have to solve all the problems brought to us. We think we have to have an answer for everything. This thinking mind is afraid to say I don’t know. Instead it says “I know”. It forgets to ask questions. It does not know how to include others in decision making. It is stuck in fear. The fear leads to reactive decision making. The reactive decision making uncovers flaws in “the plan aka our master design for how life should be” and so the intellectual mind has to get more defensive to defend the flaws because its too afraid to say “I don’t know” or “I made a mistake”.
The emotional ‘I don’t know’ is also based in fear. The one thing, only we can know, is how we feel. So when I ask someone “how do you feel” and they say “I don’t know” then I use the Tony Robbins model “well what would it look like if you did know”. We are not a society that focuses on the value of emotional intelligence. In fact, all our formative school years are focused on the power of our ‘thinking mind’. We have scores, tests, metrics and it’s all based on how smart we can prove we are using our thinking mind.
Creativity, emotional intelligence, self sufficiency, problem solving and question asking are not only thwarted but in many schools and homes frowned upon. “Do as I say, follow directions, don’t go against the grain, don’t ask why just do” are all examples of how society conditions us to numb out the most powerful tool we have ….. Our intuition.
So when we have a problem we think we can apply our thinking mind to fix it. Our most important relationships; family, friends, spouses is not grounded by our thinking mind. Those relationships are grounded by our emotional connection.
Our emotional connections are developed by our emotional intelligence. We can not ‘think’ our way into ‘connections’ with another. We must ‘feel’ in order to connect on an emotional level.
So often people ponder or attempt to think their way into a connection with another person. They believe THEY KNOW the answer if they just think on it long enough. They also believe THEY DON’T KNOW how to feel when in reality they are the only person who can understand how they feel.
What would happen if we reverse the order? If our thinking mind admitted it did not know and when it came to our feelings instead of ‘I don’t know’ we expressed how we felt. Perhaps if we learn to answer those questions about how we feel and attempt to ask questions instead of coming from a place of WE KNOW when are using our thinking mind then we will create a harmonic balance in our life.
What if we are able to talk to someone about how we feel and how what they said or did showed up for us? When we talk about how we feel, are the less likely to feel attacked? What would happen if we do not analyze what they did, label it, make it right or wrong, or compile a file of their infractions? Have you ever done this? In your mind you think I will just let ‘it’ go but it would become a tally against them. I kept a mental file of their infractions. Then when I got mad enough I’d throw the entire file at them in one sitting. With my husband, he felt attacked. He thought my reaction was an overreaction. So he used my over reaction as justification to dismiss ALL of the charges. We both stayed stuck in a vicious downward spiral. All of which was based on our thinking mind. Our ego. Our Fear.
So how do we break that cycle? We stop making others wrong. We start to focus on what we want and to make I WANT STATEMENTS. We focus on how we feel instead of what we think.
The thinking mind which is grounded in EGO will say:
“You are late and you said you would be home by 5:00. Dinner is cold. The kids are disappointed and you’ve let us down again.” Hear the judgments, the accusations, the assessments, the attack?
Understanding our feelings and communicating from our vulnerable self:
“I really look forward to seeing you when you’ve been gone all day. I get so excited and when you are late it may seem silly but I feel disappointed. When I was little there used to be miscommunication between my mom and dad and when he was supposed to get me for weekend visits. So I would sit on the front porch with my little pink suit case jumping up to run to the street every time I thought I heard the sound of his truck. I remember one time I ran to the street so many times that I cried myself to sleep on the porch because I felt such deep disappointment.” Hear the vulnerability. The desire to create connection.
or you could simply say:
“I want us to have dinner as a family. I feel that it is important for us as a family unit to have this bonding time. Can we commit to a time at least 2 times per week that no matter what we make this happen? What is important to you?
The second part of this series is the I WANT STATEMENT. In preparation for next weeks Blog, spend this week noticing how much you say I DON’T WANT. Each time you begin to say I don’t want, flip it to I want. The brain does not understand I don’t want and will give you more of what you say you don’t want! This is another example of how we avoid being vulnerable. If we say I want statements then we are putting out there who we really are and what we really want in that moment. That is scary for many of us. Using the example above what if we said this:
“You are late and this is the 5th time this week and I’m pissed and now I have to clean all this up because I didn’t get to do it when the kids were running wild.” So I slam dishes and clean up as they other persons or people look for a way to rapidly exit the scene!
“When you are late I am struggling to make dinner and watch the children. I want to take a bath and have some quiet time, would you please finish the dishes with the children”.
Does this seem elementary to our thinking mind? If we are mindful and honest with ourselves perhaps we will recognize how few of us follow these simple and basic steps in our daily life at home and at work.
We may be insecure. We may work too hard to prove our worth or the opposite and give up. Deep inside we may feel that we are not enough. We may be scared. We may worry. We may desperately want help and not know how to ask for it. We may hide all of these emotions by talking too much, focusing on what we don’t want, using our thinking mind, avoiding any conversations that reveal feelings and thus uncover our own insecurities about being vulnerable. We do all of this and then wonder why we can’t move our life and our agenda forward. We wonder why our best laid plans go awry. We wonder why people resist our charge. Life become hard work. We make it hard work. There is a better way.
I forget this path all the time. That is why I blog. It helps remind me of the path I’d like to travel; in the flow of life. It reminds me to relax. It reminds me that when people attack me it is because they are afraid. If someone squashes your vulnerability it is a reflection of their limitations not yours.
My children tell me how they feel often. Sometimes it is hard to hear. I listen to their feelings and thank them for having the courage to share them with me. I ask them questions. I help them explore what they are feeling. Then at the end they hug me. I’ve said very little. I do not feel the need to fix them or make their feelings stop. Sometimes when they are super upset I say let’s express them and we have a big pillow fight. At the end I hear “Mom, that was awesome I really needed that.” I think to myself that was awesome and mom really needed that too.
Much of their stress, is stress, we as parents, bring home. When we are uptight they are more likely to bounce off the walls. When we are centered they seem to be more calm. Hmm. Perhaps it is not about what they need to change and more about what I WANT to change about me to create harmony in all areas of my life.