"What Do I Know Anyway?"; How To Stop Undermining Yourself

A Therapists Perspective of Working With Self Esteem

There are many times that I sit with clients who are stuck, living with anxiety, depression or just feeling like they don’t know how to move forward. The ongoing narrative in their head tells them a story that keeps them in that place.

They tell me that they don’t know what to do and are anxious about change. It is hard at that moment to feel confident and quiet about the negativity they feel. We have all been in those moments when we are unsure of ourselves and feel a strong lack of confidence – which makes forward growth seem impossible.

You Have Done It Before, You Can Do it Again

In these moments it is extremely helpful to assess what you know – a reality test of sorts. Think about something you are confident about – perhaps riding a bike. Why are you confident? Because you know you can do it. There is evidence.

You have done it in the past, you have prior successes in similar situations and you have gained confidence. You can recall those prior memories and experiences and apply them to your current desire to ride a bike and know you will be successful! When you can’t readily access those prior successes, confidence begins to wane.

When Confidence Diminishes, Anxiety Has Taken Ahold

When confidence begins to wane, anxiety creeps in and begins to undermine your success. Learning how to take a knowledge assessment can be very helpful in those moments. A knowledge assessment is just a simple way of figuring out what you know.

In a knowledge assessment, there are four types of knowledge:

Four Types of Knowledge

1. Information you know that you know:  You have evidence of this knowledge. You have used it in the past and it has been correct. You have applied it with positive outcomes.

2. Information you know that you don’t know You know that there is a particular gap in your knowledge. You may have the ability to learn it but you have identified this gap as something that is foreign to your previous experience.  When you learn information that is important for future growth, you can begin to rely on it comfortably and utilize it, this information then moves into category #1.

3. Information that you don’t know that you know:  This is information that you have learned along the way, but haven’t applied yet. You may have picked up the knowledge without even knowing it! Only when you are put in a situation and you try a new approach or understanding and have it work out is it then proven and becomes information that you know that you know. In other words, it becomes part of your awareness and another tool in your toolbox!  As you become more comfortable using this knowledge for future growth, it also becomes category #1!

4. Information that you don’t know that you don’t know:  You don’t know it and you don’t know that you don’t know it…so why does it matter? Don’t stress about this information!  If it comes to your awareness that there are things that you don't know, it moves into category #2.  As you begin to learn it and feel more comfortable, it then moves to category #1.

Easier Said Than Done

Being able to peel back the emotion and have a really good look at what you know about a particular situation is often easier said than done. It often requires having a trained therapist to help you look at the knowledge you have and how to apply it to your situation.

Doing it in a time of anxiety or other emotions is even more difficult. There are tips and tricks to learning how to break through emotion in order to achieve a more rational decision. To learn some of the methods of doing a knowledge assessment and how to apply the learning, call Elliott for an appointment.