I was on the phone with my oldest daughter on the evening of her birthday shortly after we had moved into a new (to us) home. It was a very exciting time. It’s a long story, but after years of renting and rebuilding our credit score, this was OUR home. I had never been so happy about having a mortgage payment.
We were on speaker phone so that my husband could join the conversation. I was telling her that due to the move, as I unpacked, I had been carefully going through every box with a keen eye. I was trying to declutter and donate as much as possible.
She was on the declutter train herself and mentioned how many shirts her boyfriend has that he doesn’t wear. I walked to my husband’s closet and scanned his shirts. “Your Dad is the same way!”, I exclaimed looking at all of the shirts I was sure he doesn’t wear.
I turned to him, “Like this Hawaiian one, You never wear it!”
His reply shocked me. “I wear it every Thursday. Thursday is Hawaiian shirt day at the office.”
Over the next several weeks I noticed something peculiar.
He wears that Hawaiian shirt EVERY Thursday.
I began to consider that there were many things I thought I knew – but actually didn’t. Not in a negative beat-myself-up about it kind of way, just in a curious, even humble kind of way.
Man, was it freeing. It gave me permission to not have to be right about everything.
Before I became defensive about things, I could pause for just a second and consider the possibility that there was something there that I wasn’t seeing or information that I just didn't yet have.
OUR BRAINS FIGHT TO BE RIGHT. IN FACT, OUR BRAIN WOULD RATHER BE MISERABLE THAN WRONG.
Because being wrong is a threat to our safety and belonging. Our primitive brain is wired to seek the protection of acceptance.
So we fight to be right, but in doing so we can actually show up "weak"; creating disconnection, rejection, isolation, tension and so on.
When we react from the fear of our unconscious brain, we act in fearful ways. This creates the very isolation that we are wired to fear; creating a vicious cycle that we don't know how to get out of.
Until we're willing to admit we might be wrong. Or, what feels safer - just needing more information.
The poet John Keats coined a term he called negative capability. It’s “the ability to endure and even embrace mysteries and uncertainties”.
a humility regarding knowledge.
a letting go of our egos in order to just see what is happening.
a temporary suspension of judgment.
Because how often do we think we know what’s going on, and we actually don’t?
Probably at least every Thursday.