“I don’t know” is a phrase I utter countless times during the week. It’s a phrase that not only irritates me when I say it, but annoys all those I say it to.
Let me go back a few years. Right back to 2004 when I started therapy. I was seeing a child and adolescent psychologist who was incredibly patient and understanding with me. I don’t remember the questions she asked. I don’t remember much of what I worked on with her back then… but I do remember saying “I don’t know” an awful lot!
Eventually I made my poor psychologist a list of what “I don’t know” meant.
- I can’t tell you because I fear your reaction.
- I don’t want to tell you.
- I know but I don’t have the words to explain.
- I honestly have no clue.
I think there may have been a few more explanations on that list but I no longer remember. These ones are currently applicable to almost all of the “I don’t know”s I utter.
I’m completely aware that the phrase is a form of avoidance. Often I say it without thinking. What often happens now is that my psychologist will ask a question, and without a second thought I’ll say it. Sometimes she cuts me off with “I know what you’re going to say!” It makes me stop, take a breath, and think about what to say.
I can’t be the only one that does this! What’s your automatic reaction to questions in therapy?