Socrates and I have been on the same wavelength lately.
I’ve been realizing more and more how little I really know. I know I’ve been on this theme quite a bit, and it’s because it just keeps showing up!
My friend and I often discuss the predicaments we get into when we hold our perceptions of others as true. So recently we joked about going on a speaking tour and calling our workshop I DON’T KNOW SQUAT! I wonder how many people would come? 🙂
The point is that when I think I know what someone else is thinking/meaning/intending, I can get myself so disoriented so quickly! I wonder how many times we get all sideways just because of what we “make up” about the other?
Or even how much energy is expended in non-productive internal conversations—wondering if you handled something properly or poorly, or concerned about a choice someone you know is making that you don’t agree with.
We interpret other people’s words and actions based on the way we orient ourselves in life, based on our self-image, and based on how much fear we choose to live in.
I’m actually taking this down to a very deep level in my own life. Even with people I would say “I know” very well. My kids, my family, my closest friends. I’m learning just how off I can be when I make assumptions that I know what they mean or what they are thinking.
Why does it matter so much that “I know”? What value is gained by needing to know, by needing to define people and situations?
People change. We change. Think how often you say something to someone that you don’t really mean. And how often you actually can deceive yourself? If it’s difficult for us to understand ourselves at times, just imagine how difficult it is to be very accurate about the intentions of another?
We can change in a matter of minutes. We can want one thing in one minute and respond a certain way, and then five minutes later we’ve changed our mind or our view.
What would happen in our lives and relationships if we gave everyone the benefit of the doubt ALL the time? What would our world look like if we gave space and grace to others every day…if we let them off the hook constantly and decided to give mercy rather than defend, attack, judge or blame?
What if, even when we believe we are right and even when we have what we think is evidence for the other’s fault, we just let it go, we just let them go, we just let the offense go?
I believe that we are all on a journey to discover our true selves. We are all doing the best we can. What if we give each other tons of space, time and affirmation to work their way through? What if we give all that liberally to ourselves as well?
I know that sometimes giving others the full benefit of the doubt can feel painful……but it’s only painful to our egos. When we authentically choose love, forgiveness and acceptance, the rewards we experience far outweigh any costs. It’s true freedom.
My personal vision is to be flexible and willing to see all perspectives and to allow others the space to live their lives the way they want to. And to BE love in the midst of everything I can’t understand.
So remember, the next time you notice yourself judging, making stuff up, giving significance to the actions and intentions of others…..just smile, laugh, breathe and say to yourself “I don’t know squat!” Step back and let go of your interpretation and what you have decided it means about you.
And sit in the fabulous mystery of it all. That mystery doesn’t have to be perturbing…why can’t it be a glorious mystery?
“I discovered that what always brought joy was when I was willing to surrender into the awe of mystery, to penetrate the thoughts, perceptions, attitudes and definitions that the world had taught me.” Way of Mastery
You’ll be in good company….I have a feeling this is what Socrates had in mind when he said, “As for me, all I know is that I know nothing.”
Have fun this weekend and enjoy learning!