Human beings have several ‘needs’ beyond food, shelter and clothing. Tony Robbins is an internationally known “Life Coach” who has highlighted a group of human needs, among which are “certainty” and “uncertainty”.
Certainty Feels Good
Most of us will readily accept certainty. It feels good to know, for example, that when I get into my vehicle for a two hour journey to the next city, I will arrive at my son’s home safely and harmlessly. Yes, minor or major accidents can happen, but careful planning and vigilant attention on the road will minimize those risks. I have made that trip at least twenty times each year, and I can be certain to get there next week as well. Similarly, when I mix flour into a dough, put it into a loaf-sized pan and bake it for a precise amount of time at a specific heat, I can be certain of having a delicious-smelling bread come out of the oven.
Where does Uncertainty Come from?
In childhood development, researchers have noted that ‘toddlers’ have an innate curiosity to explore and overcome obstacles. What parents tend to call the “terrible twos” is actually the greatest learning experience for a child. There is no fear, only curiosity and a high motivation to experience the physical world around them. At this point in their lives, children don’t know that they don’t know. When they reach the age at which ‘self-consciousness’ has developed, children also discover that they don’t know things. Not knowing somehow attracts fear. Perhaps that fear of the unknown is picked up from their parents and/or caregivers. The net result is the birth of uncertainty.
Why is Uncertainty a “Need”?
Fear itself is a survival tool. Caution keeps us safe. But as we learn that our environment is far bigger and more complex than we can handle, human beings cannot help their curiosity: we want to know what is “out there” or what is within us! We want to know. This wanting to know is the very same, innate curiosity that drove our toddler energies to explore our surroundings.
We can look at our innate curiosity from a materialistic point of view. We have a brain that is potentially ever expanding. But its growth depends entirely on us actively leaving our comfort zone and going into discomfort. Discomfort and uncertainty go hand-in-hand. Perhaps these perceptions are one and the same. The fact is, though, that without uncertainty, without discomfort, there is no possibility of learning Someone said that “Uncertainty is the meeting place between interpretation and negotiation.”
Uncertainty as a Spiritual Reality
Yoga and meditation require us to be in the moment. Those people who practice either yoga or meditation, or both, soon experience a state of bliss because in the moment, there is no pain. When I am totally present to my life, there is no guilt about what I have done in the past, and there is no worry about what might happen in the future. When the exercise is done, I don’t actually have to re-enter my world of guilt and worry! I can accept to live in uncertainty. I can accept to live not knowing what is going to happen next. I don’t have to manage and control my relationships with people when I can balance that uncertainty with the certainty that my soul-guidance will take me exactly where I need to go.
Uncertainty is Not the Same as a Negative Outcome
Accepting uncertainty means that I have overcome the fear that I cannot handle a negative outcome. I can! You can! We spend most of our lives adapting ourselves to being safe and comfortable, righting wrongs, fixing what is broken. We need uncertainty not just for learning, but also to keep us from dying of boredom.