What Are We Pretending Not to Know?
I originally came across these thoughts in an issue of Priorities magazine. Ken Frogley is the editor, and writes a column at the beginning of each issue. I like this quote because it encourages us to look beneath our confusion to see if there is something we are denying or avoiding admitting to ourselves… some truth we are afraid to face.
It could be that we are afraid of the consequences. Maybe we are afraid that our life would change if we acknowledged what isn’t working. Maybe we are afraid that this truth would hurt someone else, and we hope that if we just ignore it long enough, it will go away. All of these reasons are understandable, and… all start with, “Maybe we are afraid,” which means that when we avoid facing the truths in our lives, fear is our guiding energy.
This reminds me of a quote of mine that I have used in this series that says: “When our purpose becomes avoidance, our life becomes a void.” It is my belief that avoidance, or fear of facing the truth about a situation is not the most effective way to deal with life’s challenges. Further, when we pretend not to know what is happening and/or what to do, we increase the likelihood that the problem will only get worse until it becomes so large that it can no longer be ignored. Unfortunately, by that time, it has also become so destructive that much of our efforts toward problem-solving will be spent in damage control and repair, not to mention the habits of denial and self-delusion that have become our way of life.
What can we do instead? We can begin to spend some time becoming clear about what we want versus what we are afraid of. We can choose to see our uneasiness or anxiety about some aspect of our lives as good information, as a signal that something needs to change. We can then courageously look at what isn’t working, and determine what we might want to practice accepting and/or what we want to change. Rather than denying, hiding from the problem, and/or “pretending not to know,” we can take responsibility for our ability to respond, and choose some more purposeful course of action.
Of course, for some of us, a voice the fear might pop up saying that they we don’t know what to do! We know something must be done, but we are afraid that we will make the wrong decision, and in the past, this has resulted in our making no decision at all (which only serves to strengthen the veil of confusion and fear). The truth is that often we won’t know exactly what to do until we do something and then evaluate the results. The value of this tactic over the “ignore the problem and hope it goes away” perspective is that: (1) we are not using fear as a guide (2) we are going for what we want versus avoiding what we are afraid of, and (3) this proactive perspective then allows us to determine what to do next, i.e., more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
As children, we may have survived by denying the problems around us and “pretending not to know” about aspects of our lives over which we had no control. As adults, we are no longer in that powerless position. As we move from surviving to thriving, maybe it’s time to take our heads out of the sand and look directly at what’s what, because when our heads are in the sand … other aspects of our anatomy are very exposed. Maybe it’s time to stop pretending and start making choices that are congruent with the truth of who we want to be and what we would teach to someone we loved. In this way, truth versus fear becomes our guiding light, and awareness becomes the fuel that keeps the flame alive and illuminates the way forward.
~ All the best, Dr. Bill