Some people seek certainty
I understand why people want more certainty in their life. It’s comforting to be able to rely on things being exactly as you predict they will be. This could be the basics like where you live, work and who your friends are or having certain routines at home and work. When things consistently meet predictions and expectations it can give a sense of security and comfort. People can feel they have control over what happens now and in the future.
It’s an illusion
As many people sometimes discover, this turns out to be a false belief and certainty can dissolve in an instant. Things such as Illness, redundancy, an earthquake, a lottery win, a car crash, an accident, a pregnancy etc. can turn our world upside down and make us feel that everything we thought was fixed and solid is now uncertain. Of course, this was always the case but it didn’t feel like that.
What might happen?
Unexpected events can leave some people with intense feelings of anxiety. What could happen next? The possible permutations and consequences of any decision or act we take are incalculable because the possibilities are endless. If one starts to imagine every conceivable thing that could go wrong in order or have a negative outcome it can soon lead to catastrophizing thoughts and feelings of overwhelm.
Imagine if every time you crossed a road, drove your car or left your house you imagined the worst that could happen? These catastrophic thoughts feed this state of unease by imagining negative outcomes that are entirely possible but not highly improbable. In some cases these can lead to General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and even agoraphobia and stop people living a normal life.
A different perspective
For others like me, certainty can be associated with boring predictability and death to spontaneous and creative acts. It can kill a relationship and make work feel like a drudge. One of the main reasons I enjoyed my career in the aviation industry was because there was little regular routine or certainty. Each time I went to work I went to a different destination, at a different time, with different crews, and different passengers. I thrived on uncertainty.
To those who enjoy not being able to predict what happens next, uncertainty brings excitement, anticipation and feeds curiosity. However, it is can also lead to restlessness, inability to concentrate or stick at one thing, and dissatisfaction in life.
In truth, we It’s probably best to have a balance of both. Enough certainty to help us feel secure, whilst still experiencing surprise and novelty. We might appreciate that life is uncertain and we shouldn’t be too complacent about the future but instead savour and enjoy what we have day by day. Accepting that we can’t control events and a letting go of the desire to do so, frees us from fear.
Please note: I am an early riser and frequently wake up with thoughts and questions on my mind. I write them down and record them in these short unedited, un-researched, unscientific bits of writing. They are written in a half asleep hypnopompic state and should not be regarded as anything more than what they are – random thoughts and musings. For sensible subjects and writing please visit Positive Psychology Learning website