This will likely be more of a philosophical post than a psychological one but it is just as interesting a topic. A friend and I had a discussion this past Sunday night about whether or not we can be certain about anything. I love this type of dialogue as it is filled with arguments both for and against and ends with an acknowledgment of truth for both sides of the coin. I guess what it comes down to is whether we can be okay with uncertainty.
There are certain things one can be certain of. Facts that can not be refuted, for example. I have a warm place to come home to and a roof over my head right now. I have food in the refrigerator and seven pairs of converse to choose from (I have at least 50 pairs at my trailer). These statements are true and certain, at least right now. They are facts that can not be disputed. I think it is a good thing to be able to tell fact from fiction. It allows us, for instance, to check out our reality and to make decisions based on that reality. It opens the door to an observation of whether our feelings actually reflect how things are. This is in direct correlation with the ability to understand where our emotions are coming from and can be helpful when challenging their prominence in our lives.
Uncertainty, however, crosses the line of tangibility and is rampant in a world where most things are based on perception and gut feelings rather than truth. We live in an uncertain world. Especially right now; although, I believe that life has always been built around uncertainty. This becomes especially crucial when we are making decisions–such as, whether to sell a home or buy a new car, if we need to take an umbrella with us, whether to wear jeans or shorts or wear a sweater or a t-shirt (weather is so uncertain). LIFE is so uncertain! Are we okay with all this uncertainty? How do we learn to live an honest life amidst ambiguity? When do we acknowledge differing perceptions and ideas that aren’t based on fact? How do we even support authenticity amidst differing facts? What I hold as true can be different than your truth depending on from where our evidence emerged. Which one is true? Can they both be ambiguous?
We, as humans, crave certainty but we live in an uncertain world. How do we, then, adjust to the questionability of our realities? Most people, I believe, support the reality they fear the most or the least. I can’t be certain but fear is in there. For example, one of my biggest fears is of descending into depression again. The way it manifests itself in my life is mind-boggling and dangerous. I don’t want to go there again! But, I feel certain, I will. Unless I can change something HUGE in my life. That THING is shame, I believe. I have to tackle my shame. This is based on the uncertain belief that embarking on this journey will prevent me from falling into another deep depression. I fear depression more than I fear tackling shame; although, both could be dangerous. Thus uncertainty could prevent me from doing anything, but I am deciding to overcome fear and take a chance. “To get what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done”. I’ve never embarked upon the journey of challenging my shame. I have, however, done nothing and ended up in hell.
We have to learn to brave uncertainty if we are going to live our lives with abandon. If we want to be truly happy, we can’t allow uncertainty to stop us from doing what thrills us or scares us. We have to take that giant leap and risk failure or losing faith. We step in ‘Certainly Uncertain’ and stand up to our fears, possibly crossing barriers we’ve never faced before, and stay strong!
peace balance empathy