One of the biggest and most harmful lies in life, is that you should or could always have an answer to everything.
I’ve been a teacher for years, and I clearly remember wanting to sink into a big hole in the ground when as an intern I was asked a question that I didn’t know the answer to by a first grade student.
I wish I could say I answered in all honesty: ‘I don’t know, does anyone else know? Or else I’ll look it up tonight.’
That would have been beautiful, if I’d shown them: I don’t have all the answers, sometimes you know more than me, and sometimes none of us know, and we try to find an answer together.
But I didn’t.
I was 24, insecure, and I had been raised with the idea: there is a (right) answer to every question, and a grown-up, a teacher, an authority, has to know it all. The adults I knew were all desperately hiding their insecurities and ignorance in order to keep up that image of themselves. And so did I. I made up an answer. A wrong answer – because I didn’t know.
They must have found out later that I’d lied to them. But I’d rather have that, than admit on the spot that I didn’t know. That I was unsure, vulnerable.
More than 25 years later, I know there is very little to know.
And yet I see colleagues – famous and renowned ones – up on stages pretending to know ‘it’. Pretending they have the answer, which you, poor lost soul, can buy for a few thousand dollars. Spiritual teachers, business coaches, politicians – they all try to make us believe there are some ultimate answers and solutions and if only we invest in them or vote for them, everything is going to be alright. Fast, too. In a weekend, for instance.
Don’t fall for it!
What is true, is that our mind wants to believe that the ultimate answer exists, the total solution, salvation – the Saviour. Our mind wants it orderly, digestible, understandable, clear, safe. And fast.
Insecurity, uncertainty – it doesn’t want to deal with that. This, paired with the belief that many of us carry, that we ourselves are inadequate, not wise, knowledgeable, in short GOOD enough. The loudmouth on stage with all his money, his team and his books is sure to know better.
And so it isn’t all that hard to earn a lot of money with this message: I have the answer, look how smooth my life is running, and you can have that too if you transfer money to my account.
So where do you think salvation lies? In the hyped, exorbitantly priced solutions of gurus? Who hire lawyers to cover up their mistakes and who carefully hide their vulnerabilities from the media?
Or in embracing your vulnerability and learning to be with not knowing? Learning to trust that life itself is our ‘saviour,’ and that the answers unfold when we have the courage to listen inward, to our soul’s whispers, and take the next step. Getting up every day, being present for whatever occurs, entering into the adventure, being willing to fall and get back up, beat the dust off your knees, wipe the tears from your eyes and say, with a faint smile: ‘I’ll just try again’?
In the mindfulness class I’m teaching at the moment, 80% of the participants are under 35. It breaks my heart that so many young people are already on the brink of a burnout. Squashed by our performance driven society, the lie of invulnerability, stress resilience, manufacturability and the superman myth.
Yes, I can teach people how to deal with stress more adequately. But it isn’t enough by a far cry when something doesn’t fundamentally change in our system, in how we deal with each other and the planet.
Our world needs people who have the courage to be vulnerable. Who have the courage to speak from the heart. Who have the courage to say: this doesn’t work, and I’m no longer collaborating. I have a new proposition. A more humane, more soulful proposition.
Women who want to live like that: I’d love to speak to you.
I made a video for you.