How Your Need For Certainty Disrupts Your Desire For Freedom


The things that we build our lives upon are so deeply rooted in impermanence that it’s a wonder we ever feel stable or secure. We build our lives on people, on fleeting feelings, on ideas we have of who we are and what will bring us joy or happiness. We fashion our lives on the shaky premise that what we have or feel now is what we will continue to have or feel.

What if we’re not meant to feel these things, that the idea that we can ever achieve stability or certainty or security is a delusion? By nature, our existence is temporary. Sure, life is long for some, but there is an expiration. None of us are getting out of here alive.

Yet, we collect our stability and we root ourselves there. We say: this is who I am, these are the things I like, this is my plan, this is what I want, these are my dreams, these are my desires. We don’t leave anything open to chance, not really. We stack these ideas of who we are on top of each other until we’re so boxed in and so high up on this stack that any movement, any change of mind, any detour, is so filled with fear that we hold tight onto what we know based solely off the fact that the fall down is too long. We bring into our lives so much undue certainty that it makes us resistant to change, to growth, to admit that what you know now is different from what you knew then and that might mean upheaval, that might mean certainty is no longer a thing you can hold in your hands.

The most precious moment is the present moment. And, at any point, the present gives us the opportunity to choose again. Yet, if we root ourselves in delusions and tell ourselves that we can’t move from the spot we’re currently in and if our fear of the unknown dictates our present moment, we are not truly embracing what could be. By stacking up our certainties and truths and barricading ourselves inside of those, we are willingly limiting what is possible in our lives.

Our desire for certainty, to root our opinions, to be right counteracts the natural state of being free. There is no freedom in certainty. We cannot be free while also dictating the future. True freedom comes from releasing what we know and stepping into what we don’t. True freedom comes from surrendering to the present moment and leaving behind the stacks of baggage you’ve piled on yourself. You are only who you say you are. You only know what you know today. There is so much more to explore.

“I don’t know” is one of the most powerful phrases to deploy. It opens up space for more to come in. It relinquishes the need to know, to be sure, to figure it out. It hands over our certainty and our definitions and our categories and our labels and it makes space for possibility. We have been taught to believe that there is something shameful in not knowing, but, in fact, it’s one of the most powerful spaces to stand in. It holds open more of everything. It’s the least limiting phrase we can employ into our lives. Because, when we do not know, we are signaling to ourselves that we are open to knowing, to exploring.

Because, we don’t know the ways in which we can live our lives. We don’t know how happy, how loved, how joyful we can be. We think we know. We collect these little truths like trinkets on a nightstand and we hope for those, but we don’t truly know. We wrap ourselves up in the things we know, but there is no safety or abundance there. We have only shut ourselves off to what we cannot yet see.

It’s easier said than done. We crave security to counteract the fear we have of being vulnerable and exposed. Yet, we miss out on the power of vulnerability, of the incredible opening that comes from our I-don’t-know-ness. And, considering we have but one life in which to experience all the gifts and pleasures and pains and emotions and feelings there is to experience, why box it all in? Why keep it small? Why care more for certainty and permanence than for the potential of letting those go and letting in that which you do not know yet? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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