Uncovering the unknown unknowns in life…

27 Mar

icebergI once heard that life is like an iceberg where our current knowledge (what we know we know and what we know we don’t know) is above the surface, while a huge amount of missing knowledge (what we don’t know we don’t know) is like the area underwater.

I’m not quite sure I completely agree with this, but I do know that where I am in life today is so completely different from where I thought I’d be (it is wonderfully better!)

I’m learning that my belief system was (and is) built on what I know from what I’ve experienced thus far in life.  Most of us go through life one day at a time and seldom question just how much “knowledge” is outside of our current situation.  This means that we spend our lives believing that our past and our present are indicators of what our future will look like – and this is like putting blinders and limits on what our future can be.

I’m also learning that “what I don’t know I don’t know” can be absolutely wonderful and can deliver experiences beyond what I once couldn’t even imagine.  These new experiences come about when my mind is open and receptive to people, places, and opportunities I might have once rejected — even before they were presented.  When you turn down a potential opportunity – that has yet to become a real opportunity – you effectively (in my humble opinion) short-circuit the full extent that your life can become.  In other words, when your mind is closed by your current belief system, adventures and opportunities stop before they reach your door.

When I was going through a divorce seven years ago, I had no idea that my life could transform and that I could emerge as a happy, single, midlife female.  I left home directly into a marriage at 22, I thought I was madly in love, and I experienced life with a husband who was much like my father (who has to be right.)  Before my divorce, I had never lived alone, had never selected an apartment, had never taken care of myself, had never nurtured an extensive group of friends, and had little time for myself aside from taking care of my then-husband and children  (now grown) to pursue hobbies or personal interests.  I remember sitting in a counselor’s office before the divorce and she asked me whether I could see myself happy as a single person.  At the time having experienced an adulthood only as a wife, I replied “no” as I truly could not envision the happy, enriched life I enjoy today.

I have to say I didn’t know what I didn’t know – my blinders were on.

parachute

I realize now that I turned down possibilities and opportunities simply by not recognizing that I didn’t know what I didn’t know.  Today I remind myself and friends “don’t say no to something or someone who has yet to present it/him/herself.”

If you’ve ever done any of the things I used to do (out of habit) – it could be that you might be blocking opportunities (and discarding the unknown unknowns) like I did:

– I used to say that I’d never move to another country. Thankfully, I had abandoned this before the opportunity to move to Florida presented itself  or I would have missed out on living 18 years where I do now (and love!)

– If you pre-judge people you don’t know based on their outward appearance which I used to do all the time – I would not have met some of the most wonderful people in my life today.

– If you say you’d never try a particular type of restaurant based on a single food (I used to think I was allergic to curry based on a single type – yet since trying Indian and Thai restaurants have discovered an incredible array of curries I love!)

– If you believe in stereotypes about particular cultures or religions or ethnicities based on what you read in the newspaper or see on a partisan TV show… you may miss out on meeting people who turn out to be lifetime friends.

– If you think that you would never do… (camping, bar-hopping, motorcycle riding, running a marathon, wine-tasting – pick anything that is outside your current experience) – you might miss out discovering a great interest.

– If you think you’ll be rejected if you do/try/think something different from your family (I was raised in a ultra-religious home where it was almost taboo to think beyond the religious dogma!) – try it!

Once I realized that I had some of these self-limiting (and unfounded) beliefs, I discovered that there is so much in the world I didn’t know I didn’t know. Choices Today there are so many choices (especially choices that have yet to present themselves) that I feel like I am running out of time!  I have no idea what countries I might still want to visit, and my “bucket list” is growing by the day as I experience new adventures along life’s journey.

I know I still have a ton of biases, beliefs, and preferences that limit my future – but they are growing less and less as I resist resisting!  There are so many diverse ideas, diverse people, and new ways to view the world (that were beyond my imagination) that my world is expanding.  This is a wondrous thing to find out at mid-life!

Wishing you an uplifting and expansive week!

p.s., I was a guest host on Carmen Brower’s blog talk radio show this week to promote our upcoming True You Discovery retreat (I’m a featured speaker!) at the Tradewinds Resort in St Petersburg Beach, FL May 3-5, 2013.  Won’t you join us?  Here’s the link to the website and promotional FaceBook page.  It will CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

Carol

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