The problem with not knowing
Monday, Jun 09, 2014 10:30 am
I'm usually a person who would prefer to know what's what rather than avoid it. So I was surprised recently by my hesitation in taking a new online memory test designed to potentially detect early signs of dementia.
I'm the first to admit that these days my memory is a random access system but I don't really think that I have a neurological problem. I attribute it to some combination of menopause and not paying attention.
When I read about Baycrest Health Service's brain "thermometer" at https://cogniciti.com/, my first thought was "Do I really want to take this test?" That actually meant "Do I really want to know if I have memory problems that should be checked out by a doctor?" That led to the inevitable thought dominoes that start with "what if this?" and "what if that?"
Over the years, I've had countless conversations with people who, on one topic or another, declared that they would just rather avoid learning the truth of the situation. They say "I'd rather not know," which more precisely means, "I'm afraid to know."
Why are we so hesitant to look things square in the eye?
It probably has lots to do with our anticipation that the outcome is going to be bad. We lean into the fear rather than hope. Not always. Otherwise no one would ever check their lottery tickets. But when it comes to health or relationships or money, we are more likely to stick our heads in the sand for a while.
The problem with that is our precious time and energy goes into avoiding and worrying rather than into the more productive activity of dealing with the situation.
Just because you don't know something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
Ironically, our decision to not know likely makes the situation worse if there is actually something that you need to know. The sooner you take action, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome.
The truth is, most of the time, we worry needlessly. Mark Twain once said, "I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened." Putting off knowing and then worrying about what you don't know only to find out later there was nothing to worry about is, at best, silly and, at worst, a huge distraction from what is really important in life.
Good or bad, it's always better to know.
Back to the online memory evaluation, I gave my head a shake and took the test. Turns out I have nothing to worry about. My results were "meets expectations - no specific memory concerns.” Good to know.
How are you sticking your head in the sand?