You don’t know that you don’t know

EmPulse for Week of April 25, 2011

You don’t know that you don’t know

We are living through one of the most trying times I have ever known— watching the slow deterioration of my mother’s mind. Dementia. At 96 years old, her body is in incredible shape. Physical therapists say she is the strongest person, at this age, they have ever tested. Orthopedists tell me her bones test at the same density as a healthy 26 year old. Physically, she is in great shape. But she doesn’t always remember who I am, or my sister, or my wife…, or even who she is, or where she is, or the time, or the day. Her only life-markers are the daily newspaper and meal times; and she gets them confused constantly.

She doesn’t know that she doesn’t know.

In the study of the brain, medicine has created a schema for measuring a person’s ability to grasp and retain information— The Four Levels of Cognition.

  • You know that you know.
  • You know that you don’t know.
  • You don’t know that you know.
  • You don’t know that you don’t know.

There are far too many of us glibly gliding along, oblivious to or avoiding the existence of certain realities that someday will overtake us. We do this, conscious of our actions, as a form of self-preservation, self-protection. We hide our insecurities from ourselves and from others. Not that we should lead with our left foot, displaying our weaknesses as a means to gain sympathy; but because we do have some responsibility to be true to ourselves and others.

Some of us know that we are living conflicting private/public lives…, but we have no idea of how to break the bonds of the apposition. So we remain in bondage within the façade. This is a serious, life-threatening condition. Talking with a close friend may not be sufficient, especially if you have carried on the charade for a long time. You should find someone totally outside your network of friends in whom you can confide— completely. Not a lover or a drinking buddy, but a well-balanced psychologist, a spiritual director, or a seasoned life coach. (Like me.)

Still others of us have been so beaten up by life that we are now afraid to risk anything that might put our heart or livelihood in jeopardy. We cannot stand the idea of being hurt even one more time: we cannot fail at one more job. We don’t realize that we have more assets built into us than we can conceive. In the immortalized words of Yoda, (The Empire Strikes Back), Do, or do not. There is no try. You can do more than you think.

Finally, there are some of us, too many of us, who live convoluted, deep-surface lives. We are ignorant of our failings, our offense to others, and even of our own self-esteem. We think too highly of ourselves because we never think to ask anyone else how we interact. Conversely, some of us crawl through our days under a black cloud, never sensing the gifts that God has bestowed upon us; thus, we never try. Anything. We are unaware of who we are and of the capabilities we have been given. We think we have a grasp on life, on everything about life; but we are self-deceived. There is no more frightening thing in life than a person who has no idea about what he/she is talking about, or doing, and is cock-sure they are right.

Please, take time to connect with yourself, with the people around you, and with the God who made you. There is no more critical knowledge in life than to gain an accurate perception of who you are, where you fit, and where you stand before your Creator.  Know that you know. You know.

Have a nice week.


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