The “I Don’t Know Syndrome” and Its Effect on Life and the Pursuit of Happiness

I hear it all the time.

Lee J. Bentch
Just Thoughts
Published in
3 min readMay 31, 2024


A simple black and white photo with the words You’ll Get It Eventually.
Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo on Unsplash

“I don’t know,” said the teenager when asked what she wanted for dinner.

“I don’t know,” said the lady when asked what I could help her with.

“I don’t know,” said the third grader when offered an ice cream cone amongst multiple flavors.

‘I don’t know’ are three frustrating words. They imply uncertainty, lack of confidence, and a state of confusion. It’s what I refer to as the I Don’t Know Syndrome.

The term is frequently used, mostly among kids and teenagers. I learned to make quick and good decisions as a child.

My mother would reward us for being decisive, giving us a bonus for being quick.

For example, she would take me to the shoe store. We’d find three pairs that I liked. All I had to do was tell her which pair I wanted with confidence, and she would buy them.

But shoe shopping begins with the usual abundance of self-talk. That inner voice that guides us in our daily lives. Given a choice to make, the voice kicks into high gear, trying to instill a sense of logic in my decisions when I go shopping:

I like the ones on the left…



Lee J. Bentch
Just Thoughts

I am an author, a technology guy, a grandad, a widower, and a man with many interests. I write to inform and entertain. Email: lee@lbentch.com