Addicted to certainty?

Early morning vibe
Photo credit: Suzanne Bélair

I have been really busy with no opportunity to paint or write much lately but am taking a short vacation right now.

 

This week, I am enjoying reading about minimalism (“Make space” by Regina Wong) and how to reduce not only your physical possessions but also your mental clutter. I am also reading “The Art of Talking to Yourself” by Vironika Tugaleva which is about Self-Awareness and our Inner Conversations.

 

With everything going on in my life right now, the mental clutter is abundant and both books complement each other in exploring this.

 

One of the things V. Tugaleva talks about in her book is our addiction to certainty and I definitely recognize myself and some of the people around me in that concept. I also realise how much stress this need to be certain adds to our lives.

 

I used to be all about trusting life and going with the flow but now find myself wanting to manage what is out of my control, trying to make some people happy even if I cannot change their physical circumstances and especially their inner dialogue.

 

I am pondering when this changed and how to go back to a better way of thinking and being. How do we cure this addiction to certainty?

 

I realise I am often looking for rules about happiness and now, rules on how to declutter my mind and declutter my life. But rules are quick fixes since they are rigid and we are not and neither is life. Reality changes constantly,

 

Most people look for static things, whether possessions, relationships or ideas. Confusion and questions make us uncomfortable so we look for stability and certainty, for what we think we want. But what we want today is different from what we will want tomorrow, especially as we keep learning, and what we want might not be what we need.

 

I have never engaged in “retail therapy” like some who like to accumulate things to feel better, to reassure themselves somehow but I realise that I do engage in “knowledge therapy”. I love to amass new ideas, whether they resonate within me or not. And I love to revisit old ideas, turn them in my head, re-examine them from all angles. I am looking not only for knowledge but also for a solution, a rule that will tell me how to apply this knowledge to enhance my life and help others enhance theirs. I am a hoarder of ideas, afraid of letting go of one in case I forget it and it might be useful later.

 

Every idea we receive throughout our life is a gift but we don’t need to keep every gift we receive. Just like an unwanted trinket can end up cluttering our physical space, an intellectual gift can clutter our mental house.

 

Still, we keep other people’s ideas and belief systems in our heads, especially if they come from our parents or someone we look up to. These belief systems often clash with our own experience, forcing us to make a decision for the better choice, again seeking certainty. If a third option comes along, we again re-evaluate our choice to make sure this time, we know…

 

When we want to declutter our mind, how do we separate what is useful and meaningful from the rest?”

 

“We organize knowledge into bulleted lists and line graphs while the wisdom of the present moment sits patiently at the doors of our perception. “ – Vironika Tugaleva.

 

I do believe in Impermanence and the ever-changing nature of reality but find myself looking for certainty in my decisions and ideas, and even for my children, wanting what is best for them, to fix things for them. I spend a lot of mental energy worrying about others like this. But what do I know of their reality and true needs? No two people think or perceive reality and life the same way.

 

We don’t have to make an immediate decision about every idea we are exposed to, why not let it enter our mind and gently let it go without making a final judgment regarding its value at this time.

 

When faced with a stressful or emotional situation, let yourself become fascinated with the questions and answers that fill your mind and watch your mind’s automatic responses. These are signs of your addiction to certainty. Automatic responses are about what you no longer question. Allow yourself to question, investigate your own reaction.

 

Become self-aware and open your mind to your experience. Question your feeling of certainty. You cannot acquire from a book, a guru, or a coach alone, the wisdom that can only come from experience.

 

References:

Vironika Tugaleva, 2017, “The Art of Talking to Yourself”, Soulux Press, Canada

Regina Wong, 2017, Make space, Skyhorse Publishing, NY

 

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