It can be uncomfortable to say, “I don’t know” because it can make us feel vulnerable to admit we don’t have an answer. It can seem like a lack or a weakness. We’re encouraged to be strong.
As a man in America, I certainly know that experience. I was taught to look like I have it all together. Once way to do that is to know things. Knowing things makes it seem like you are in control. Thinking this way gives you permission to make things up with the air of knowing, when you don’t know. Living this way basically leaves you in fear of people finding out that you don’t know. You can never feel at peace.
The problem is that it’s my experience of saying, “I don’t know” that opens me up and makes me feel alive. Sure, being open makes me vulnerable, but to put on a show of having an all-knowing mind, shuts me off from myself. And there’s nothing worse than losing the connection to myself. When that’s gone, nothing in heaven or earth can be fulfilling.
There are endless sources of information out there especially from from the internet and magazines that we can feed off of to give us the illusion that we are gaining some kind of security in absorbing all these facts. Our fear of being safe makes this need insatiable. It creates an addictive response.
I’ve seen this often with clients who had saved hundreds of magazine articles and printouts from articles they downloaded from the internet. They weren’t able to read the bulk of the articles they’d saved, and even though there wasn’t time to read them all, they didn’t want to let them go. Having this kind of information felt like some kind of wealth to them and they didn’t want to lose it. There was an uncomfortable edginess to this knowledge possession. Helping them see the neurotic and exhaustive state that it left them in helped them break the knowledge grip. It gave them a tremendous relief to let this information go.
My wife Julia, who is a neuroscientist, told me that it helps her research to admit that she doesn’t know. It opens her up to discovery and seeing things in a way that she hadn’t considered before. I see it in her childlike wonder about life. This makes her receptive to intuitive insights. Intuition is basically receiving information from the infinite information of the Universe. The great thing about intuition is you can’t chase or collect it. That information comes to you because you are open. It fills you with wonder because it arrives as a gift. This kind of information makes you a richer person.
There’s something humbling about saying, “I don’t know.” It leaves you open to a new understanding. Admitting to yourself that you don’t know helps you see that you are not isolated. There is a world out there that wants to tell you its story, and listening to that story makes you feel connected.