Knowledge is power. Francis Bacon.
When I was a child growing up in Italy, my mother (who was very French but also spoke Italian and English) would often share quotes in different languages.
At the time, being brought up in a multi-language environment, my brain would take her words at face value and not question if the meaning was surreal or didn’t make sense.
So, when it came to the famous Francis Bacon quote, what I actually heard was:
Knowledge is power. France is bacon.
…which didn’t make sense but it also kind of did as mum was French and she was always going on about how awesome the French are (if you have any French relatives, I’m sure you can relate to this stereotype).
Incidentally, this became a brain habit of mine and in subsequent years I would go on to mishear the following:
- Christmas barbells (instead of Christmas baubles – my husband only corrected this 2 years ago – he held onto this little in-joke of his for 17 years of our relationship)
- Get your rucksack (instead of Get your rocks off – famous Primal Scream song)
- I sometimes wish I’d never been boiled in oil (instead of I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all – Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen)
And my all-time favourite:
- Take your pants down and make it happen! (instead of Take your passion and make it happen – from the 80s cult song Flashdance) – to be honest, I still think that my version is more impactful than the original…
Would you like fries with your mondegreen?
If you can relate to my hearing mishaps above, you’re not alone.
Mondegreens (the proper term for mishearing words that make sense in your head but are in fact incorrect) are a fairly common occurrence. Just ask your family, friends or colleagues and you’ll be delighted with a hilarious collection of mistaken lyrics.
In fact, this is so common that a few years ago there was even a viral mondegreen doing the rounds when thousands of people mistakenly believed (and complained) that McDonald’s had intentionally put out a series of cursing Minion toys (Google McDonald’s cursing Minions if this bizarre phenomenon eluded you at the time and you’re in need of a chuckle).
What should be clear becomes ambiguous
While mondegreens are hilarious, I think there is a big piece of learning to be had here. Let’s face it, if we’re really honest with ourselves, we mondegreen a lot of important information that we just choose to turn into a different meaning.
I used to work crazy hours – the constant wired energy coursing through my body – clearly a sign of overwork. Yet, for years I would pride myself on being a high-energy person, extolling the virtues of being able to work into the wee hours of the night.
I kept deluding myself that the anxiety I felt at work was high energy and excitement and that I was invincible.
I just kept on deliberately mishearing the messages that my body was giving me.
What was in fact a clear message of ‘something has to shift’, became completely ambiguous and twisted because deep down I didn’t really want to hear the real message.
Stop confusing plausible with real
Here are some of my favourite health mondegreens that I used to hold on to as fact – and many of my clients also share, when we first start working together.
PLAUSIBLE: Having high energy in the evenings and thinking this is a great thing
REAL: Unless you’re a true Rockstar DNA Energy TypeTM and your circadian rhythm is set a couple of hours later than an average person, this is a clear sign of hormonal stress disregulation – phase 1 in your road to burnout.
PLAUSIBLE: That crazy diet I just did helped me shift a heap of weight and it’s good for my health
REAL: On most diets, most people lose muscle (i.e. lean body mass) as body weight and not fat. This means that when you stop the diet, your metabolic rate will be even lower and you’ll put even more fat on.
PLAUSIBLE: I’m tired – must be ageing.
REAL: Most people I see have a genetic or biological significant reason for fatigue.
PLAUSIBLE: I’m a bit forgetful – there’s nothing I can do about it as it’s also a normal part of ageing.
REAL: From exercise to fat loss, to biological optimisation to increasing cognitive performance to optimising hearing….there are a myriad things to do to stop your memory loss.
PLAUSIBLE: Attributing loss of sexual power for men to just stress.
REAL: 90% of erectile dysfunction (and even marginal loss of the intensity of an erection is part of ED) can be corrected by optimising biology.
PLAUSIBLE: I’m putting weight on because metabolism slows down with age.
REAL: Not true at all. We put weight on as we eat too much, move less, stress more, we don’t eat the right macro composition to slow down age-related lean muscle mass loss.
Whatever you’re telling yourself that is ‘normal’ – I can pretty much guarantee that it’s not.
My question is, even if you want to continue to live in denial – are you actually happy?
Does living at half-mast, with monthly increased evidence of your body’s loss of vigour bring you happiness and satisfaction?
If the answer is yes, good for you! You’ve found a way to live in a bubble that makes you genuinely happy
If on the other hand you want more in your life and you’re ready to put the work in, I would absolutely love to hear from you.
I like to play with courageous leaders who have a vision of themselves as unstoppable into their 9th and 10th decade of life.
I’d be honoured to have a conversation as to how we can make that happen for you.