Just Thinking – How Do You Know?

by Mike on December 20, 2009

How Do You Know?

I forget when I first heard that the mind is a dangerous thing, but I’ve thought about it often over the years. It’s usually well after the fact, when I’m doing lessons learned after doing some foolish thing.

It’s usually in my personal life where I have problem with reacting without challenging the source of the event or words. What I mean is when someone says something, or something happens, and I jump to conclusions and react without thinking.

In my professional life, that usually doesn’t happen. I’m very methodical in getting to the facts surrounding the matter to determine if a response is even needed. Most of the questions that I ask are around the idea of “how do you know?”

By asking how do you know? What was said? What happened? I get a better idea before I respond.

So, recently, I’ve started using the question to challenge myself about my thinking, both positive and negative. Most of the time, it’s in the interpretation of events that we get it wrong. When my wife says something, and I take it in a certain way and react, it often causes problems. If I don’t challenge my interpretation, how can I know?

Now, even after asking how do you know, you may not know. It happens and it’s OK. Just asking the question is creating a pause that turns your reaction into a response. A response carries a lot more intelligence with it than a reaction. From what I gather, they even come from different parts of the brain.

It might be more dangerous asking this questions of others. They may not be prepared and take it wrong, but if that’s the case maybe they’re presenting a monologue and not interested in a dialogue. There are a lot of people like that. Recognizing that may be enough and keep you from a fruitless engagement or argument.

If you ask the question of yourself and you don’t know, you can pursue it further or just drop it. Take for instance when someone cuts me off in traffic. I can react and curse and call them names because I think they did it on purpose. I can take it as an insult.

On the other hand, I can ask, how do I know he cut me off on purpose? Then I can ask another equally powerful questions – does it matter? Even if he cut me off on purpose, does it matter in any important way to me? Does it matter enough to get upset, raise my blood pressure, or ruin a moment of my life? Like I said in the beginning, sounds so easy after the event.

This entry seems to make sense to me now, but then I’m jet lagged at almost 3:00 a.m. in the morning. What Do I Know? That’s enough thinking for now.

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