Say no to ‘know-it-all’s

There is something very disquieting about ‘know-it-all’s. By that I mean the people who a) have an opinion about everything, b) believe their opinion is the best out there and c) are adamant there is no way they could be convinced otherwise. I used to associate this attitude with confidence, assertiveness and, why not, I also thought it was quite attractive to see someone so sure of they stand up for.

Part of this impression though, may have been largely influenced by the person who was holding such an attitude, that is my first ever serious boyfriend. He was one of these people who was always convinced that things had to be seen through his side of the story and was also incredibly persuasive in convincing people of his version of events. At the time, I was also very easily influenced, but looking back I think I was naïve to believe that was attractive or a sign of confidence. I now feel that is quite the contrary.

Whilst at university, and generally during the 5 years since we broke up, I’ve come to the realisation that ‘know-it-all’s are literally full of s**t. Not only that, but they also seriously annoy me. The simple reason for this is that, if like me you’re generally constantly hungry for knowledge and ways to improve your skills and understanding of certain issues, you come to the realisation that the more you learn about things and the world the less you know about them.

It’s like a knowledge warp. It sucks you in and gives you a big cold hard slap on the face to wake you up and make you realise that you don’t and can’t know everything, that not even those we consider to be the most iconic historical figures did, that everyone is fallible and that nothing is set in stone, and yes that also applies if you’re the effing Roman Empire.

Therefore, the logical argument that flows from this realisation is that people who adopt a ‘know-it-all’ attitude, in fact, know very little a) about the topic, b) about their inherent human fallibility and c) are infatuated with themselves beyond belief to realise that maybe other’s people’s opinion could also be viable.

If you’ve ever reached that point where you’ve spent hours reading on a topic just to realise the amount of knowledge you have yet to uncover, a very interesting shift happens: you’re suddenly humbled by the vast amount of information and wisdom held by the countless of events, books and people who lived on this Earth before you, and you accept that you are a novice. You also feel pretty that good after all that reading ;)

There is a sense of humbleness that comes with understanding you don’t know it all. And a very surprising behavioural shift also occurs from ‘opinionated and argumentative’ into ‘listen more, talk less’.

The point I’m trying to make is that people who chatter too much and speak too loudly are in fact obtuse-thinking and put up a mask of impression of knowledge. People who actually master a topic and are truly knowledgeable about the strains of thought behind a certain topic will be much more open to conversation and inviting to deliberation.

Moreover, a massive difference is the way in which these two different types of people will make you feel: the first will a) frustrate you and belittle you, b) shun his ‘vast’ knowledge of the topic in front of you and c) perhaps also try to enforce his opinions on you. Conversely, the latter will d) speak very clearly and explain very complicated notions in very simple terms, e) infuse your brain with a refreshing sense of clarity of both pro-against argument and most importantly, f) will empower you to believe you could also one day reach that particular level of expertise.

Thanks to Nefeli Art & Psychology for the picture

The person I have in mind when I think of this is my father. He’s a walking encyclopaedia on all things biology-related. The fascinating thing about my father is the way in which he explains very complicated biology terminology and processes in very simple words and concepts that not only make me understand the matter at hand very quickly and efficiently, but also inspire me to seek further information in the domain and thus, expand my knowledge of that issue myself. Moreover, he is always very happy to discuss taboo issues or unpick misconceptions on various topics, but, when he doesn’t feel comfortable with a topic he will simply say he doesn’t know what the answer is or that he’ll come back to me when he reads more about it.

Two things to take from this: 1) actual ‘know-it-all’s are able to translate super complicated stuff in easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy sentences, and 2) actual ‘know-it-all’s are aware they don’t know it all! Which should make you be very suspicious of i) someone who is not able to explain very simply to you what they stand for and give you clear arguments, and ii) someone who’s clearly unwilling to take different opinions on board because they’ve ‘definitely made up their mind on something’.

I hope my post will nudge you to be very careful toward the attitudes of people around you and the way in which they make you feel when displaying their knowledge or understanding of the world. While it is important that people form their own opinions and have all the right in the world to feel strongly about a certain cause or subject, it’s also very important to be aware of the way in which they express that: it might make others feel very inspired or, “quite frankly, my dear”, very annoyed.

Thanks for stopping by,

MG

Autumn Clean?

Leading a constant fight against clutter is no easy thing. That is because clutter, just like dust and insecurity, crops us in the most peculiar of places surrounded by the most random of things: dirty socks or interminable train of thoughts that keep you up at night.

This struggle against clutter that I’m leading is less about cleaning my room weekly, giving clothes away to charity or rearranging my remaining clothes by colour (although I do that very often and with huge success), it is about constantly eliminating or avoiding the items, thoughts, people, food, movies, media or habits that make me unhappy. Or that lead me to do things that later make me unhappy about myself.

It is so difficult to be the person I wish to be. To be that change I want to see in the world. That is because sometimes I find myself wondering down a street, or dancing at a party I don’t want to be at or stalking my ex-boyfriend’s profile right when I had promised myself I’d take that time to invest in my own development. And also actually get to read October’s edition of Monocle.

What is this I’m doing? Self-policing? Why does it even matter? It matters because I decided that I want to make a more significant autumn clean this time where I start a new mode of life: deliberate living – one in which I am in full control of my time, body, mind and thoughts, in which I decide how I spend my time, in which I make my own choices and in the process become more of the ideal person to which I aspire.

There is nothing too complicated in the plan. As always, the problem lies in the execution of the plan. It requires a few steps that can help me regain control of my time:

- wake up no later than 8

- delete my Facebook account

- do more timed study

- be positive toward life

- be generous toward others

There are many other things that come to my mind and ways in which I think, feel and know that I can reclaim my life and live deliberately.

This blog will now become the place where I can vent about how difficult it is to change things that I don’t like about myself while staying true to the ideal of whom I strive to become. Baby steps all the way.

Thanks for stopping by or coming back,

MG

Fighting Waves or Building Castles?

Have I recently told you how much I hate mediocrity? And because, of course, hating a concept is a redundant, in fact, idiotic thing to do, the correct way to put it is that I hate mediocre people. Too harsh? Let me explain myself, in case you have any doubt as to what exactly I may be referring to.

This negative feeling I have is directed towards people who think limited, act small and do little, those who don’t dare, don’t dream and don’t challenge. It’s about those happy in a status-quo that doesn’t make them push any boundary. Those who are comfortable to ‘just be’, who look for ‘comfort’ and who don’t see discomfort as an opportunity to adapt to ‘new’.

From the saying ‘Think global, act local’, these people think local and don’t act at all. In fact, they complain, accuse, moan, and become prisoners of a finite time and space: their world fits in their living-room television.

The worst thing about these people is their lack of vision, absence of perspective and deficiency of imagination that gives them the unique opportunity to be mediocre. That is to exist in such a contained environment that has the ability to utterly and completely lock all their human potential to evolve.

People who don’t have imagination are the poorest people in the world. Those who don’t dare or dream or care to be better are lost, utterly and completely lost, and that’s because the world is moving too fast to allow us to be sedentary organisms. This is not about walking distances, it’s about personal development. It’s about celebrating what we are, that is, the definition of life, the expression of biological harmony. We are made of constantly moving particles of life that continuously adapt, change, move. Yet ultimately, we have complete control over the direction of these molecules. And it is those who strive for more, who think, listen, act and do more, who go beyond what is expected of them who honour the very Nature that created them.

I find that the key aspect to unlocking our magnificent human potential is to surround ourselves by people who inspire us. By people we look up to and who teach us something new every time we spend time with them. It is this human interaction that makes us be better, because in the end, we cannot be better on our own. We need others just like others need us. The goal is to eventually become that ‘someone’ somebody wants to be around, to be inspirational and have the ability to change people’s mindset or perspective or to influence someone else in the positive even if just with an idea, advice or a mere smile.

The only fault to being a visionary, though is the exposure to greater risks. Think of water: the more you swim deeper in the ocean, the higher the risk of drowning. Staying ashore is safe, but you don’t get to experience the beauty of losing yourself in the crystal blue water. So, think about this for a second: where do you see yourself on a beach:

Are you fighting the waves or building sand castles?

I don’t think there is a middle way. I think you are either one or the other. You are either made for challenges or not. Either a visionary or not. No one can teach you how to think big, just like no one can convince you to parachute from a plane. You feel to do it or you don’t. If you do, though, then let’s meet up for coffee, drink Rioja and talk about the biggest fear you’ve overcome. We’ll have a blast.

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Cry Me a River…

Meanwhile on randoMpaGe 77 of Janet Todd’s Sensibility…

“…tears indicate response; they denote tenderness, sympathy and a feeling heart. [Some] react to suffering with subtle gradations from weeping hysterically to dropping a single tear. Such physical manifestations constitute a language of the heart, a code of sincere and true expression far beyond words which have the ability to lie and conceal.”

‘It starts with a quivering lip. Or maybe blinking faster and faster to keep the wetness from escaping.’

Why is it that we cry? Shedding tears is a regulatory mechanism that helps us reset the balance of our feelings. I find it truly fascinating how nature has been mindful enough to incorporate in our bodies a carefully crafted device which enables us to express our emotions.

Should tears be automatically associated with ‘sadness, pain, broken heart’-related feelings?

  • I cried of sadness so much I had no more tears left. In moments when time seemed to have shrunk dimension, I felt the earth crumbling under my feet…I hurt and got hurt.
  • I cried to be forgiven thinking tears will restore lost harmony. I poured my heart out, admitted my love with fervent passion and mad intensity. But I was rejected. With a smile and a clear ‘no’.
  • I cried of fear, of change, of the unknown. With no clue which way to go. I took a deep breath. Regained my courage and faced the unfamiliar…
  • I cried because I missed someone with everything around me a flashback token: my pillow, a smell, a song, a shop, a cake, a book, a poem, a place…
  • I cried because I lost someone. Touching his cold hand. My Mother’s gentle hug and tender caress took away all that dismay.
  • I cried because I felt weak, powerless and disappointed in myself. Feeling disillusion over something I had complete control of was disheartening and frustrating.
  • But despite all that, I also cried of happiness to express an overwhelming feeling of bliss. When looking in the other’s eyes, finding no words to speak but an uncontrollable tearing. And a smile. And a kiss. A long breathtaking kiss that made my body imponderable and my emotions volatile like mercury in the air.
  • I cried because I was too nervous. I was 6 and I had to recite a poem at a Christmas Celebration (using a microphone). The instant I heard my voice amplified, I gulped and got timid. I did however carry on with red eyes and wet cheeks. Bless…
  • Lastly, I cried just because… When I was 3 my Mother walked into my room and found me crying. Alerted, she asked me what had happened. With red yet serene eyes I replied: ‘I am crying because I missed it!’

River T

I like to think some of these are episodes of the past. I have inherited what my Father defensively calls ‘a hypersensitivity’ and he considers himself the bearer of this gene. My Mother is a lot more implacable and firm. But what am I supposed to do? Blame it on genetics and keep weeping? As with every flaw or weakness, the secret is to start perceiving them as a challenge.

Timidity can be corrected.

And so I accepted the challenge. I started speaking in public every time I had the chance. I was that person asking questions after someone had delivered a speech. I ran for a leadership position in my first year of university: I got laughed at, I was admired, I was motivated, I had made it! I had officially delivered my first speech in public and I hadn’t felt the ting of crying.

It gave me an amazing empowering feeling. It was that emotional latch when I knew that can’t affect me any longer. I adopted the ‘so-what’ attitude.

I developed a voice that was eager to speak out loud and clear.

And when in love… I realised my tears are too precious. That the person who will love me the way I deserve will never make me cry, of sadness anyway. Break-ups come and go, they are organic part of our natural development and growing cycle, they make us stronger.

Once you go through a few you get immune. You grow this invisible shield. You realise that in the end nothing really changes that much: the sun still rises in the morning, your friends are still there and you are still you with or without that person in your life. It’s an unfortunate mismatch, it’s l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y., a sad but true: C’est la vie!

What about when you see someone else cry? I am not one of those people who find the right words to make you feel better right then and there. I will however be the softest shoulder to cry on, I will hug and listen.

So are tears a sign of weakness? My answer to that is: Does that matter? Does it really matter that much for us to judge other humans by their level of strength or weakness?

I suppose that in the name of ‘human jungle laws’ we may have this cruel instinct to see feebleness, frailty, misery and develop the illusion that somehow that makes us stronger. But that is beyond false. It’s not comparison with someone’s decrepitude that makes us mighty and pithy; we have to work on that ourselves.

I say don’t be afraid to cry. Don’t be afraid to show your emotions. But be selfish with your tears.

Don’t be afraid to get hurt and have faith in your ability to regenerate. You are able to take any fall. We all are.

I wrote this listening to…

PS: What I find intriguing and astounding is that my body has its own mechanism to detect tears: my brown eyes turn green.