Friday, June 02, 2006

Inner Knowingness

My house mate, Leah, uses the term “Inner Knowingness” to talk about something that could be described as a cross between intuition and the kind of knowledge or awareness that Malcolm Gladwell talks about in his book, Blink.

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about this idea… Inner Knowingness. In the past few years, I have come to trust myself much more than I ever have before. Of course, I’m still human and have a good many flaws… accepting them without hating myself for them is part of the journey, I guess.

I have never thought of myself as being particularly diplomatic. Actually… I can be as stubborn as a mule and as un-gracious as a bull in a china shop. The fact that I know I can be this way – and truth be told, it is my natural tendency – has caused me to try to overcome it in my adulthood… to try and smooth the rough edges and soften my approach.

For a few years, that led to a good deal of dishonesty… I was more willing to be diplomatic than honest, in an effort not to be… abrasive, shall we say.

Then I began to see examples of people around me who could manage to be both… directly honest and yet gentle. It is an approach I decided to try. It meant a few things:

  • Surrendering my need (or desire?) for people to like me.
  • Surrendering my need (or desire?) to “be the good guy”.
  • Having the courage to say what needed to be said.
  • Being motivated by honesty and a desire to “do no harm”, rather than my own emotions. (It’s easy to be “honest” when what you really are is angry… Yet, to set the emotion aside and observe the situation gently and without judgment is a whole other deal.)
  • Committing to being as honest with myself (and about myself) as I am with others.
  • Deciding to accept, without judgment, others’ honest expressions that are also rooted in the idea of “do no harm”
  • Above all else, trusting myself and my “Inner Knowingness”.

Am I this way all the time? Hell, no! Can a person be this way all the time? I think so... but I'm not there yet.

Having said that, you know when something is not right. You know when something needs to be said and is not being said. You know, deep down, when you’re motivated by your own emotions, rather than a desire to be helpful… and “dis-interested” (which is different than not caring).

Most of my friends and family know that can count on me when they ask for an opinion or advice. I tell them what I think, even if I don’t agree with them, or it’s not what they want to hear. Sometimes people get pissed off, but I think it’s more about not getting what they want than anything else.

I have also had to be brutally honest with myself in learning this process… My own commitment to fitness and health has been a good test of that. More than once I have had to say to myself, “Sarah, you need to keep your food and activities in balance… You’re not eating enough…” or on other days, “Sarah, you’re slipping and going back to old eating habits. Get back on track…”

The knee injury has forced (or “invited”?) me to get honest about pain. I hate admitting pain of any kind and yet… until I (fairly recently) started getting in tune with the pain I felt in my knee and leg, I got nowhere with my healing process. Now, things are coming along slowly… but it is sloooow.

I have questioned whether the reality that I hate that I feel pain isn't part of the problem? Maybe learning not to hate it is a key part of the process I just haven't gotten yet -- or only recently started to twig into?

It certainly is a process… learning to trust the Inner Knowingness… Learning to listen honestly and speak without interest or agenda. For me, the quest to get healthy and strong has been a vehicle for me to deepen my understanding in this area, which falls far outside the threshold of any track or gym… and yet… maybe not?


robtherunner said...

I believe that I am pretty knowledgeable when it comes to my "inner knowingness." My problem is trying to figure out how it relates to the world around me.

backofpack said...

I've gotten better at recognizing and accepting my "inner knowingness". Mostly because I ignored it a few times and paid a high price. I'm not so good at the gentle honesty part - I think I try too hard not to hurt feelings. I still have the need/desire to be the good guy and to have people like me. Good post!

Robb said...

Sarah, you have such wonderful insight. You are a terrific writer. Another thoughful post.

Have a great weekend.

Turtle Guy said...

A very thoughtful post, Sarah. With respect to "You know, deep down, when you’re motivated by your own emotions, rather than a desire to be helpful" this is one I struggle with now and again. My want to be "the good guy" sometimes overshadows being truly helpful.

Remembering to be gentle with yourself as you learn and grow is a toughie too.

Lots to think about in this post, thanks!

ipodmomma said...

interesting. I think honesty is the best way to try to be....

more to say, but's it's just 6.20 AM... need some more brain cells to wake up, before I can say too much else... :)))

Janice said...

Hi Sarah,

You could have been talking about me with the bull in the china shop part of your post. And it dosen't help that my signs are Taurus, and I'm also year of the Ox with the Chinesse calender. I swear it's Bulls, Bulls everywhere!

I also have an overly honest adatude. I don't want to hurt peoples feeling, so I have tried to soften my responses.


angie's pink fuzzy said...

mmm, very true. Have you heard about Non-Violent Communication (aka NVC)? Your post reminded me of parts of what it teaches.

This post is very wise. Very eloquently summed up much of what I have been learning - about using my "voice" to speak up when something seems off or different. Learning to tell the truth instead of being dishonest.

I swear, sometimes we seem to really be on the same wavelength. Were we twins separated at birth? ;)

zouzou said...

great post. unfortunately my 2 braincells have nothing to add.