Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
Do you like quizzes? They can be a fun way to pass the time, and when you get a question right – especially if it’s something that most people don’t know – it can be a nice feeling, a little buzz. Top of the class!
If your memory or your general knowledge is not so great, quizzes can be a bit of an ordeal. The assumption is that its good to know the answers – the person who knows the most gets a prize – they are the winner, they are best – and you are not.
Quizzes offer an opportunity to show off your knowledge but knowledge is something that we tend to respect and value in others and in ourselves. I think that “knowing stuff” gives people a feeling of security, of being in control, of being powerful. People with strong opinions tend to project themselves as strong people – and others will follow them, reassured by their certainty. Religious leaders, trade union leaders, political activists, and a host of other types pull people in with their certainty, their knowledge.
“Knowledge is Power”. It’s been said for centuries. But knowledge does not have to be truth – I think perhaps it’s as much about certainty, or faith, than it is about knowledge. False or dubious beliefs can carry as much weight as true ones, if expressed in a convincing way.
Why am I philosophising like this? It’s because I think that for us as individuals, the quest for knowledge can be alluring, but unhelpful.
In a relationship, what must it be like to live with someone who knows all the answers? That leaves no room for us to hold a different opinion, to do things a different way. It leaves no grey areas, no room for discussion or compromise. If your partner believes that they know all the answers, then their way is best, and why on earth would you choose to do things a different way? Many an abusive relationship is founded on the belief that “I know best”.
Like many other behavioural patterns, knowing the answers can become obsessive and compulsive. Facts need to be checked. Thank goodness for Wikipedia! We can achieve certainty with a couple of mouse clicks! But if the laptop is out of reach, we can always bluff – make something up. If we give the answer with enough conviction people will believe us, and respect us for knowing stuff.
I worked with a client like this a while back. She had always needed to know the answers to feel good about herself but this was putting herself under a lot of pressure. When asked a question in a meeting at work, or by her partner, she would feel it was a test that she needed to pass. A sort of panic would descend and she would make up an answer – any answer – to stop the panic. When she realised that this was what she was feeling she was able to change things. Giving herself permission to say “I don’t know” was immensely liberating for her.