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Be Suspicious Of What “Everybody Knows”
I hung over the little table where my 2-year-old daughter was having breakfast. She had a bowl of raisins next to her cream of wheat or “porridge” as she called it. One by one she put the raisins into the porridge – right in one big pile in the middle of the bowl. Then she picked up her spoon to start eating…and of course got a big heaping spoonful of almost all raisins.
I couldn’t watch any more. With a mother-knows-best swoop…I grabbed the spoon from her hand and pushed it back down into the porridge saying “Bella, you’ve GOT to stir it. You’ve got to move all these raisins around so you get a raisin in every bite.”
But I Was Trying To Be Helpful
Argh! It was like that feeling you get when you lock your keys in your car and you KNOW the minute you slam the door that you just did something foolish.
I knew I just blew a creative little moment for her….she was playing with the raisins quietly…she was figuring something out…she was going to learn for herself whether SHE likes to have a mouthful of raisins or it’s better spread out.
Now I could lie and say I was concerned about the choking hazard…but honestly it was all about schooling her in what EVERYBODY knows – that you’ve GOT to stir it.
What Everybody Knew About Me
• I should be skinny, smart, sexy and super nice (preferably all at the same time!)
• I should get married, I should have kids.
• I should have a career. I should stay home with the kids.
• I should drive a luxury car.
• I shouldn’t quit my day job.
• I should push my kids into sports.
• I should keep getting promoted.
• I should speak up. I shouldn’t be demanding.
• I should work more. I should work less.
What’s Happens When Everybody Knows?
1. Intimidation When I was 22, a hair stylist in DC attacked me with, “Oh honey, we NEED to wax your eyebrows! You can’t go see your boyfriend like THAT. See- I get mine done…and look at hers…that’s how they should look.” Seriously? Yikes I didn’t know…how embarrassing. Everybody can’t be wrong…I mean, I’m not going to stand up to everybody like the furry eye-browed monster that I am.
2. Noise All this paying attention to what everybody knows didn’t drown out my own voice but it sure did create a lot of confusion in my head. Should I do this? Should I do that? What would people say if I did that? No one else is doing this? Blah, blah, blah. It’s exhausting and can lead to a serious habit of time-wasting overthinking.
3. Paralysis When my mind gets confused, my body doesn’t move. So I’d stay stuck in jobs I didn’t like, relationships that weren’t healthy, traditions I didn’t enjoy, and conversations where I had to pretend I was something that I’m just not.
I’m Going This Way, Everybody
Over the past few years I’ve made a bold conscious effort to be very suspicious of what everybody knows. More specifically, I check in regularly to ask “What does my gut say? Does this feel natural? What sounds most true deep down?” And it’s made a huge difference in my life!
1. Confidence I buy and wear what feels great for me, and have stopped restocking my wardrobe constantly based on the must-have brands and trends.
2. Quiet With a clearer bolder mind, I opened myself to learning yoga…even though in the class everybody knew (except me!) that I should be able to do 10 pushups and hold my side arm balances without toppling.
3. Decisiveness I quit my day job and launched thriving business that I LOVE…with work that suits me to a T!
Come On, Be Reasonable
So I’m not suggesting that you become an overly-optimistic daredevil or a know-it-all who doesn’t listen to sage advice and ignore the lessons learned by others. For example, PLEASE don’t go jumping off your garage with an umbrella for a parachute or run with scissors! (I’m pretty sure your gut would say don’t do it anyway!)
I’m just saying stop before you allow some porridge-stirrer stir to decide what feels right for you. Just a little bit of healthy skepticism will do. Especially if it if sounds like “You gotta….” or “Everybody does…” or “We all love….”
Hey – just remember that once upon a time everybody knew the earth didn’t move and was the center of the universe. Granted, it was pretty darn scary to step up and be Galileo, but aren’t we all glad he was suspicious of what “everybody knew.”
So get some quiet in your own brain. Tune out the noise and play around with your raisins. Take the time to hear and trust your own instincts.
And don’t worry! Your instincts won’t have you running with scissors – they’ll certainly guide you toward the most confident, productive, and fulfilling path – every time.