The “Don’t Know” Mind

As you may know, I’ve been reading How To Be Sick from Toni Bernhard recently. I learned so much from it, it has to be within arms-reach at all times, especially in difficult, dark, frustrating days all spoonies know. In this post I’d like to tell you about the exercise that resonated most with me, called the “Don’t Know” mind.

What can we really know? How much time do you spend wondering what is going to happen next? Well, it turns out I spend quite a lot of time doing that. Now that I’m mindfully investigating my thoughts and coping mechanisms, I see  that the “What’s Going To Happen” thought appears in my mind very frequently and takes up a lot of my mental energy.

I think everyone does it, wondering about the future, wondering what would have been different if you had just… But I didn’t know how much energy that costs me. And it’s useless too, because you will never know the outcome just by guessing or hoping or thinking up solutions for future problems that may very well never happen. Do you stare at the ceiling when you’re in bed, thinking about what would have happened if you hadn’t had that flu that set off your now chronic illness? And if you were not on antidepressives, how would you feel? Would you be less tired or would the panic attacks come back? What if you stop with the pills and they don’t work anymore when it turns out you do need them? What’s that new doctor going to be like? Will he have knowledge about your illness? Will he take you seriously?

And what about the future? Will you get better eventually? Will that new treatment help? Can you go back to school? Will you be able to have kids, to work, to [name something you desperately want]?

The thing is, you don’t know. You just don’t know, no matter what strategies you think up or how many hours you spend worrying about it. It will remain a mystery until the moment is there.

So why not admit that you don’t know. When a thought appears in your head, questioning if you can or can’t do something later on, if you’ll be able to go to that meeting, if you ever get better… just say: I don’t know. It’s actually pretty easy. It’s liberating. That’s the practise of the “Don’t Know” mind.

I can’t even tell you how relieved it makes me feel when I say “I don’t know” to a question that’s lingering in my head. The thought disappears quickly, and I can relax in the acceptance that I just don’t know. We’ll see. And then I can spend my mental energy doing things that make me happy, make me feel productive, and make me feel in the moment that is right here right now.

Related post: 

Bookreview on How To Be Sick by Toni Bernhard
Books I recommend

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  1. I enjoyed your post very much! I would like to consider myself a “young” spoonie, although I suppose at the age of 38 I am more of a middle-aged spoonie, lol. The what-ifs are terrifying, no doubt. But I’ve been doing this more than 20 years now ,so my “I DID IT’S ! ” far out weigh my what ifs at this point. I am so glad to see another spoonie with a positive fun attitude in the face of the adversities we have every day. Reach for the stars , girl. And never stop!

    1. admin

      Hi Ruby! I’m glad you enjoyed my post! I’m so glad you got to do things you wanted in spite of your illness. That’s what we all aim for! I will never give up, although it’s depressing and frustrating at times. But I will not give my life up, because this is the only life I have right now. Thank you for commenting! 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for saying this. I have such a hard time shutting my brain off of the what ifs of life. It’s like a carousel of what could go wrong. It’s so exhausting. I wish there was a switch you could flick to get a break!

    1. admin

      Hi Amber, I know exactly what you mean. I have noticed though that when I’m consistent in thinking “I just don’t know how it’s going to go” it happens even without me trying and I can relax way more. Meditation is not for everyone, but some things can also bring relief just thinking it. Thank you for commenting!

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