Our lives are riddled with deaths
Know them — Study them —
Learn from them.
Don’t wait until the last one.
– O.D. ©2021
Art by: indi1288
Anxiety about the future and its choices often pushes us to seek certainty in our lives.
The limbic system has a habit of triggering alert responses when we’re about to enter a situation that makes us feel uncomfortable. And I say feel because the limbic system is the part of our brain that regulates emotional and behavioral responses.
This desire for certainty (if left unchecked) can easily cradle crippling habits.
Habits such as deliberately making choices that are “safe” or tolerating/rationalizing abuse because it’s easier to deal with “the devil you know” — y’know?
Psychological certainty plays a core part in the human experience. Influencing how people shape their thoughts, attitudes, decisions and behaviors. People form different evaluations and act a certain way when they feel certain, not when they feel uncertain.
I won’t talk about how this desire for certainty affects every part of our lives but I will mention how it affects my creative thinking.
People who know me are aware that I don’t like leaning on traditional standards of thinking or doing things. I don’t like doing things just because that’s how it’s always been done. To me, that’s poor reasoning for validating something; especially when there’s room to improve on an established formula.
The same principle can be applied to my writing. I don’t like writing what’s safe, loved and appreciated by everyone — because nothing like that exists.
I don’t like reading generic advice I could easily siphon on Quora or Yahoo answers lol. I know murder is bad; but it’s far more enlightening to learn what’s going on in the mind of those responsible. It’s a personal preference I suppose, to read work that takes risks; work that isn’t afraid to touch on the taboo.
I enjoy seeking uncertainty (within reason) because that is how ideas are generated — through questions. My mind can only work when I’m doused in uncertainty because that’s how I’m encouraged to make new ideations and interpretations of the world and everything around me.
That is how our theorized space of possibility continues to expand and form new connections — by allowing ourselves to welcome new experiences. After-all, creativity finds itself in the undulating hallways of the known and the unknown.
But of course, this isn’t something that can be appreciated by everyone; particularly those that desire certainty. And that is entirely valid. If people seek certainty they should find it. Even in relationships.
As a writer though; that reality sounds like hell.
Outside creativity, there are many other reasons why lessening our love for certainty is helpful. Giving certainty a long leash encourages us to be more tolerant and open minded — both of which help us see things from multiple perspectives and not lean on our way of thinking as being the “right” one.
It also offers us opportunities to embrace new experiences.
But as always, it’s a choice.
(For the strawman: Not all certainty is bad. Yes, we need to know there is food for breakfast, lunch and dinner; especially when we’re responsible for people other than ourselves).
Carmen, A. 2016. Why are we always looking for certainty in our lives?. Psychology Today.
Tormala, Z, L. 2016. The role of certainty (and uncertainty) in attitudes and persuasion. Current Opinion in Psychology. Vol. 10, Pages 6-11.
Rock, D. 2009. A hunger for certainty. Psychology Today.