“I Don’t Know”

In nearly every therapy session I have conducted throughout my career as a psychologist, there comes a moment in the conversation where a deeper question is asked. Something to the effect of, “and why do you think that is?” “what is the source of that feeling?” or “why do you think you took that action?” Then the answer comes, “I don’t know.”   (IDK) is a real conversation stopper.

I see IDK in text speak used countless times each day. A hundred years ago it was common to answer difficult questions about our failures with, “The devil made me do it.”  Or something similar. As we gain greater understanding of the science of our mind, these types of answers will no longer suffice.

Some people use IDK to avoid going deeper into themselves or to deflect from unpleasant feelings in the conversation. And sometimes it is the truth of the moment.    What is the square root of 2347? I don’t know. However, if I do the math, then I will find the answer. In mathematics the procedure and order of operations will reveal the answer.

As a psychologist and Thrive coach, I am excited by the IDK because it indicates where the work needs to be done.  Kind of like an auto mechanic that finds the source of the weird noise in a poor running engine.

In psychology or personal philosophy, the introspection will produce the answer. We must have the courage to face our lack of awareness, to dig deep to find the answers and to explore the inner mysteries of our mind.  Socrates once claimed “unexamined life, is not worth living.” He admonishes us to not be content with ignorance but rather to seek to understand. To eliminate, as much as possible, the I don’t know.

The real question is, “why don’t I know?”  Have I been repressing the motivation? Do I not wish to face my fears?   IDK is where the work is. To me, when we get to IDK, then the real work starts, and we may have found a rich deposit for our subconscious self-sabotage.  By exploring the IDK we can uncover the underlying issues that drive our maladaptive behaviors.

As we become aware of these subconscious motivations, we employ the power of our conscious mind, our prefrontal cortex, the logical mind to then analyze and decide the next course of action.  Identifying and eliminating the IDK in our life has the power to liberate our soul from ignorance and laziness. And to be able to live a truly Thriving life!