by Cindy Kunsman cross posted from her blog Under Much Grace
All images by Cindy Kunsman from Under Much Grace and used with permission.
Ignorance (lack of knowledge) affects all of us. Recognizing that you lack knowledgeable about something and seeking information or advice shows strength of character as well as wisdom in decision-making. The true problems arise for us when we don’t realize that we’re ignorant about a matter and to what extent our knowledge reaches. In the discussion of risk, often times, no one has information about uncertainty, but just that knowledge alone can help you make wiser decisions. So while you may feel like you’re standing on the edge of a precipice and just might fall in to trouble, the fact that you’re aware of your footing and your limitations does provide a great deal of power about what you can do and how to prepare for what you might face.
This post is also another one that looks at hard facts that can be difficult to thin about but will perhaps help us identify pitfalls that affect how we manage acceptance, expectation, and growth in recovery from trauma. The post which will follow will be more encouraging and pleasant!
Types of Ignorance
This person is ignorant of essential information that would help them greatly, but they are completely unaware and therefore unconcerned about their lot in life. They don’t ever think about what they know and what they don’t, and they don’t seem to learn. From what I’ve read and my grasp of it, it appears that this correlates more with organic disorders or a very empty sense of a core self.
- Haplessness. Some people are hapless and ignorant, but for whatever reason, they seem to make rash, drastic decisions that result in painful and devastating consequences. I think of Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina and Austen‘s Lydia Bennett as two different types of characters in literature who mean well and desire good things but make many decisions that result in much heartache and hardship. If they’d have been more savvy about their choices and had valued themselves and those around them a bit more, they may not have risked so much. At least in what is written, Tolstoy’s Anna comes to realize that she’s made some tragic mistakes and faces her regret. Though it’s too late to improve her condition much, she takes stock of her choices and notes them in hindsight. Austen’s Lydia, however seems to me to remain a simpleton of sorts and someone who doesn’t even notice the pain and stress that she’s created for her family because of her rash decisions and flights of fancy.
- A Web of Willful Denial and Avoidance. I had an encounter with a friend who had been in and out of marriages, and though she felt shame and regret that her marriages didn’t last, I worried for her. When last I heard from her, she had bounced into another relationship that seemed to be self-serving with all abandon to relieve her short term stress but seemed shocked that her snap decisions came with a price tag that she had not considered that she would have to pay. She did have a lot of entitlement that really set me ill at ease, and I saw a high level of wishful thinking in her that she billed as faith in God that disturbed me even more. Yet at the same time, she vested her whole sense of self in what I saw as a created framework. It clearly helped her cope when she was younger but became a self-destructive thing when it became a pattern, an ideal which she chose to serve at all costs, and when she kept finding herself near-destitute which only sent her back into the behavior and belief.
Confirmation Bias as a Virtue. Some people also willfully embrace their lack of awareness about ignorance in favor of the illusion of fantasy because that’s all that they can handle. It does provide them with the idea that they are not responsible for their actions and they become victims of circumstances created by someone else. I don’t understand whether these folks had any glimmer of awareness that things might not be what they seem. If they did, they resisted it and seared that awareness so that the no longer found it bothersome. I know that in my experience with a shame based person who I know well, questioning the wisdom of their beliefs hurt them so deeply that they could not function.
- I think of how my upbringing conditioned me to do this very thing when it came to giving money to televangelists. If I “gave as unto the Lord,” I was safe from the consequences of what happened because God would make good on what I gave because He would know my heart and good intent. I meant to foster His work, so He counts it as a credit to “my heavenly account balance” or something. Facing this habit and teaching opened up into a very grief-filled phase of my life, for who wants to look back to see that they ignored a part of themselves to do what they believed was right.
What does ring in my head is my determination to seek the truth and to be accountable. I had a doctor tell me when I sought his help that the people who have problems with ignorance about being ignorant or are ignorant about their limitations don’t ever ask the questions that I did and don’t express concerns about those limitations. So I guess that I’m getting more at ease with decision making and concerns about naive ignorance thwarting my progress, but I still have my days! And much of that goes back to how I was raised and how I was taught to discount my needs. Sigh.
The next post will look at more encouraging elements of making safer decisions and ways that you can manage your stress as you work through, learn, and practice the process.
Judith Herman’s Trauma and Recovery
Peter Levine’s Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma
- Bessel Van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps Score
Cindy is a member of the Spiritual Abuse Survivor Blogs Network.
Cynthia Mullen Kunsman is a nurse (BSN), naturopath (ND) and seminary graduate (MMin) with a wide variety of training and over 20 years of clinical experience. She has used her training in Complementary and Alternative Medicine as a lecturer and liaison to professional scientific and medical groups, in both academic and traditional clinical healthcare settings. She also completed additional studies in the field of thought reform, hypnotherapy for pain management, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that is often associated with cultic group involvement. Her nursing experience ranges from intensive care, the training of critical care nurses, hospice care, case management and quality management, though she currently limits her practice to forensic medical record review and evaluation. Most of her current professional efforts concern the study of manipulative and coercive evangelical Christian groups and the recovery process from both thought reform and PTSD.
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