June 12

Faith in Ignorance

June 12, 2012

Personal Growth

In counseling, probably the most common problem I encounter is the overpowering need that people have to be right. The instant we insist on defending ourselves, however—which is just trying to be right—we can't hear anyone else, we can't learn anything, and relationships with other people, who actually like to be listened to (odd, eh?) become impossible.

It's ironic that when we claim we're right, we're demonstrating a profound belief in what we know—despite the fact that what we're doing isn't working. Faith can be a great power, but when we have faith in something that is not true, confusion and failure are guaranteed. If we're not loving and happy, our faith in what we know is unfounded, and it is simply impossible to claim that we're right.

How much more effective it is to have faith in our ignorance. When our lives aren't working—unhappiness and difficulties in relationships—it's far more productive to say, "I trust that I don't know anything—not a thing—but I'm willing to learn." At this point we open ourselves to learning and growing.

One man recently said to me, "But I do know some things."

"Sure," I said, "you might. But your life is working ineffectively to such an extent that your emptiness and fear are clouding your vision and judgment. So you couldn't possibly know what you do know. Even if some of your beliefs are true, you're so confused that you wouldn't know which ones those are."

When we're not happy, we need to have faith in our ignorance, accompanied by a desire to learn and eventually to have faith in what we learn that is true.

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