- Thoughts for inspired living

April 1, 2008

Self Control

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:11 am

I remember on my elementary school report cards a category called “Self Control.” I also remember not being graded very highly in that category. I think the grade mainly stemmed from my eagerness to show that I knew the answer. This was accompanied by lifting my seat off the chair and waving wildly to be called on and saying the teachers name over and over again. I wasn’t the only one doing it.

As we grow older and mature a bit, the need to show that we know the answer calms down and the frenetic gyrations of a schoolboy looking for attention are not as present. That does not mean the need to demonstrate our knowingness has disappeared. How many times have you wanted to communicate to someone that you knew something they didn’t? It happens quite often. Oftentimes, the need isn’t so much to inform them, but rather to let them know that you know.

This is a transparent attempt to communicate that “I am not stupid.”

Many people grow up with unaware parents who say things that leave marks on impressionable children that have them run that script for a lifetime. “Don’t be so stupid,” “Only a moron would say that,” “Could you possibly be that dumb that you don’t know that.” My father had a hand gesture that he used to use. He would stick up his thumb and say, “See my thumb, gee you’re dumb.” He wasn’t malicious with it; it was more of a tease. Yet to this day, my son remembers it quite unaffectionately.

It may be illustrative to know where your behavior pattern stemmed from but it does little to alter its course. The recognition of the pattern is always the place to start when desiring a change. But why even bother to change this pattern if you are comfortable with it? The answer is simple. The pattern of “know it all” is a guaranteed way to keep people at a distance. People do not gravitate to people who need to show their superiority. The negative programming of the past causes a person to become superior and to “have to know” so they don’t appear stupid. It’s a fate worse than death for some.

What they fail to recognize is that people are backing away from them. If they do notice, they surmise that they are not giving them enough information and do the worst possible thing – pour on more of what is chasing people away – more of what they know. It’s a vicious cycle that repeats itself.

“Did you know?” is a telltale question from a person who is about to demonstrate their superior knowledge. Its twin brother, “Didn’t you know?” is also a dead giveaway that you are about to be regaled with superiority.

This, like so many of our flaws, is easier to spot in others. The bigger game is to notice it in you. As always, the noticing or interrupting of a pattern, while it’s running, puts you at the doorstep of change. You may have to interrupt yourself numerous times for the pattern to update itself into something that serves you better, and the effort is worth it.

All the best,


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