Sunday, November 8, 2009

I Don’t Know

Several months ago I was at an on-the-premises estate sale (where the entire contents of home are sold off). The real estate sign in the front yard also had a big SOLD sign at the top.

There were several other people in the garage area where I was, and I overheard two men talking. From the gist of the conversation, I concluded that one of the men, probably in his early 70’s, was somehow associated with the sale. Perhaps a relative? I was not paying really close attention, but I did hear the second man ask: “What are you going to do now?” In a calm, even tone the first man answered: “ I don’t know.” And, he did not elaborate. Boy was I impressed!! How wonderful for him to be so at peace when he doesn’t know exactly what the future holds for him. “I don’t know” – to be able to say that and be totally comfortable, totally ‘at ease’.

Here comes another one of my “I remembers”…
I remember when “I don’t know” was a scary thought – as in “Yikes, I don’t know”. One that kept a vicious cycle of fear alive. In fact, as I’m typing this, I’m thinking it could be one of the ultimate thoughts that causes fear to continue going and growing.

The first scary “I don’t know” could simply be concern. Keep the thought alive and it will turn to worry. The imagination fires up – with the level of symptoms escalating in direct relation to the number of thoughts.
Worry produces headaches, an upset stomach, neck & shoulder tension, backaches, and/or a hundred and one other physical sensations/symptoms. And let’s not forget confusion – which I would consider a mental symptom.

When people are worried, rarely do they think of positive outcomes. The “What-if’s” that pop-up are typically gloom & doom, insecure thoughts which paint a grim outcome. And I do speak from experience here. I remember when…

How grateful I am that I learned that “to know, that I don’t know” could be, and is in fact, an average, rational, and realistic thought – as in: “Oh, I don’t know.”

Way back when, my nickname could have been Regimented Rose. “I must know how things are going to turn out next. I must anticipate anything & everything. I must be ready, and have a solution!” I wanted to have all the answers. And guess what – that’s NOT possible.

How carefree and peaceful is to be able to truly say, “I don’t know” whether the question concerns what might be termed a major thing or a minor one.

Where am I going to live in six months? How am I going to make my house payment this month? Is my company going to downsize again? Will I have a job next year? I don’t think I’ll have enough money to buy all the items on my grocery list.

Often, “I don’t know” is the healthiest thought we can have. Besides, if we don’t stay level-headed in the present, it’s almost a sure bet that we’ll be really rattled when an ’unpleasant’ situation does appear in our lives. And the reverse is just as true: Stay as level-headed as you can, and you’ll have a greater chance to receive & recognize insight as to what to do. What’s that old expression?? “Temper blocks insight” which equates to: low or no temper means an abundance of insight & choices.
“I don’t know” keeps us moving in the direction of our goals – short-term and long-term. Being frazzled and upset can keep you in such a state of mind that you feel incapable of doing anything

A “Right now, I don’t know” is calming in all types of situations:
“Right now I don’t know” - the results of those medical tests (whether they’re your own or anyone else’s). “Right now I don’t know” what college my daughter is going to be accepted to; what the weather’s going to be on our vacation; for sure how many children will show up at little Johnny’s birthday party; if the mechanic can be done fixing my car in time for me to get the tire repaired on my lunch hour, so I can get Haley to soccer practice right after work; if I’m going to be able to fall asleep at a decent time tonight,”
The list IS endless.

“I don’t know” – the scary/insecure kind – can also be disguised as: “I hope everyone likes the new casserole I’m making for tonight’s dinner”; “Boy, I sure hope the new minister is as good as our old one." Again, a simple, matter-of-fact “I don’t know” will put a mind at ease.

For major worries it will take repeated (and maybe relentless) “I don’t knows” to calm down. For the minor ones, it may take one or two, or maybe a few. Practice. Practice using “I don’t know” and it will become both a comforting, and a comfortable statement.

Oh, by the way, there’s also the fear of social reputation of “What are people going to think of me if I answer - I don’t know?”

So go ahead. Ask me: “Rose, when’s the next post on your blog going to be?”
“Right now, I don’t know.”

© 2009 Rose VanSickle ~ All rights reserved