Why Not Having All The Answers Is A Good Thing

Not_Having_All_The_Answers_annaIllustrated by Anna Sudit.
In our daily lives, how often do we handle situations on autopilot, in the way we know is best? Probably quite a lot. We do it with people, too, basing our relationships on what we believe we know about the other person.
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But, do we really know as much as we think?
Every preconceived opinion we have is either something we’ve been told or based on our own past experiences. We tend to collect this information and store it in our minds as our own “Guide to Handling Life.” And, that’s not surprising. Life is changeable and uncertain, so we naturally search for rules and approaches we view as certain.
What Can We Be Certain Of?
All we really know for sure is what we’ve actually experienced ourselves. So, to be certain of what we know, we have to let go of everything else — everything we’ve been told by others. That’s not to say we shouldn’t value the advice and knowledge of others, but experience is what really matters.
So now, we’re just left with our own experiences. But, our experiences constantly change, so we have to let go of them, too.
That doesn’t leave much. In fact, the only thing left we can truly rely on as certain is the experience of the present moment, which is paradoxically uncertain.
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For some, this revelation is a cause for celebration. It’s license to let go of all of that old baggage that holds us back and instead, tackle the world with a new sense of curiosity and wonder. Best of all, we don’t have to pretend that we have all the answers anymore. We know they’re always changing anyway.
For others, uncertainty is harder to deal with. As humans, when we’re hit by problems or fear, we feel an overwhelming desire to think and find a well rehearsed approach filed within the mind to handle it. That becomes our certainty; it feels better than peering into the uncertain chasm of life.
Being Uncertain Is A Good Thing
But, the practice becomes easier once we realize that instead of feeling embarrassment or frustration by not knowing something, we find freedom. Instead of a fixed, rigid mind operated by a set of preconceived ideas, our uncertain mind is curious, interested, reflective, and malleable. And, by approaching life and the people we encounter within it with genuine uncertainty, we can experience it — and them — as they truly are, at that moment.
Our response to life’s events becomes calm, non-judgmental and entirely considered.
The wisdom of uncertainty doesn’t reject human intellect; it encourages us to understand more. It doesn’t devalue the experience of others; it allows us to embrace their ideas because we’re less set on what we believe.
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Learning to be uncertain highlights the importance of understanding through experience. For example, being told or thinking about being content is one thing, but being content is something else altogether. It’s not enough to just believe something. We have to discover it, feel it, and know it.
Meditation teaches us how mindfulness can turn our attention to the present moment. It shows us how to step away from our usual stream of thoughts and just be. Once we’ve mastered this, we can experience true uncertainty — naked awareness — that’s free from thought, judgment, opinion, or analysis.
So, the next time you find your mind flicking through its files to automatically handle a situation, take a step back, welcome a little uncertainty and view life as it unfolds before you, with open eyes.
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