Are you a know-all?

Are you a know-all? If you are a know-all you probably don’t know that you are one! When we are emotionally distressed we become know-alls. Our thinking becomes distorted. At such times we are more prone to being governed by our emotions. When we succumb to know-all-ism we engage in illogical, irrational and self-damning theories about ourselves, others and our world. Often the worst decisions are made solely because they were made at the worst possible time. By allowing ourselves to become engulfed by know-all-ism we refuse to consult with others or seek practical advice. I have met many people who know why I can’t help them before I even try.

Mindreading is something that we are not good at. Often we get it all wrong.
During challenging times we need to become more emotionally aware. If we accept that we are sad, angry, hurt or dejected we are more likely to take care of ourselves better. Knowing to press the ‘pause’ button and postpone a decision to a later date will probably mean that the decision will be a better one. Too many people rush to conclude and join the dots about people and situations without the evidence. We often make our situation worse for ourselves.

We are all vulnerable to know-all-ism. It stunts development and growth. Many people at work are frightened by proposed changes because that make the assumption that they will not cope or that the changes will not work. Often change is exactly what the doctor ordered but will never be considered by the know-all. Know-all-ism encourages us to dislike people before we truly get to know them. It can also allow us to harbour feelings of resentment and vengefulness because we assume that everything said and done is personal. These toxic feelings are very bad for our mental and physical health.

How can we avoid surrendering to know-all-ism? The good news is that there is a cure for it. You may have to work hard at losing old habits but there is definitely hope for you. Start by being more openminded. Dare yourself to question your own theories and conclusions. Think about other possibilities that may have led to the situation you are in. Engage with others to help you with this.

Here are some tips to curb know-all-ism.

  1. When we are gripped by know-all-ism we can only hear our own thoughts and theories. We need to question ourselves more. Ask yourself questions like – Am I right to be be as annoyed as I am? Would this annoy other people as much as me? Are there any other explanations or theories equally as valid as mine? Is it worth being as annoyed as I am? Write down your answers.
  2. Sit down and nip yourself – remind yourself that you are annoyed, angry, disappointed or sad and that your mind may be weaving unhelpful conclusions and anticipating worse case scenarios. Make yourself comfortable in your seat and close your eyes. Concentrate on your breathing – the gift of life within you. Find your natural breathing rhythm and stay with it. Count your breaths. Do this for a few minutes. This will chemically calm you down and you will be less likely to jump the gun or plot revenge after a period of such meditation
  3. Seek advice from a few people. Include family members in this approach but remember sometimes they are too close to the situation and cannot always offer neutral and objective opinions. If you are going to ask a few friends to advise you about something then remind them not to tell you what you are thinking. Sometimes when we are in a know-all mood we seek advice but we want people to confirm what we are thinking and resent them for not confirming our faulty beliefs. It’s important to remind them that you value their opinion and don’t want them to tell you what they think you want to hear. You could also consider seeking independent professional advice.
  4. Say to yourself things like – ‘I sometimes get the wrong end of the stick.’ or ‘I’m too annoyed to think straight at the moment.’ Often such affirmations open out minds when repeated as mantras.
  5. Sometimes people who antagonise us or create feelings of resentment within are people who we do not know properly. There may be a lot more going on in that persons’s life than you may realise. Maybe, they are going through their own crisis at the moment.Maybe, they are not at their best. Just like yourself.
  6. Arrange to meet people who do not know about what’s upsetting you. You are more likely to discuss other things with them and might become distracted. I am of the opinion that people often annoy themselves for too long about things. Why? Because they are thinking about things for too long. Distraction is a great remedy.

We are all vulnerable to know-all-ism but it’s particularly unhelpful when we are in crisis. My late father used to often talk about ‘annoyance’ and expressed sadness for people or families who were experiencing annoyance as he would term it. But he also used to say  ‘There’s enough annoyance out there without giving ourselves unnecessary annoyance.’ I think we are more likely to annoy ourselves about things that are unimportant when we have closed our minds to advice,  other opinions and alternative theories. The more  we work at becoming openminded the less stress we will experience. And we all could do with less stress.

(c) Shane Martin