Its interesting that as part of our needs as human beings we have a need for both certainty and uncertainty seemingly simultaneously, and some of us prefer a little more uncertainty in our lives whilst some others prefer to have a lot of certainty in our lives. But we do typically have a need for both of them at the same time.
Confusion and not knowing; they provide the sense of uncertainty and so for a great deal of us we can feel really uncomfortable with that. There’s also I guess, the implication of maybe not coming across as being very clever when you’re confused about something. So maybe we may feel uncomfortable about admitting confusion as we see it as a reflection of the degree of intellect that we have.
I was actually talking to someone just a couple of weeks ago about climate change and this is someone who is massively passionate about the subject of climate change, in that he believes that climate change really doesn’t exist and that its all like a big made up thing, that the government is using to be able to increase taxes and to be able to tax all sorts of different things that they didn’t tax previously. In his mind that’s the reason why climate change exists, for taxation reasons. He was asking me my opinion on the subject and I kind of held my hands up and said “You know what; I’m not 100% sure about whether climate change is true or not true. I hear that there might be something valid in what your saying. But I have also heard a lot of valid points that you know icy things are melting and polar bears are struggling, which doesn’t seem too good. So in my world I can see merit on both sides of the argument but I’m happy to say… I don’t know.” He found this really frustrating, which I found quite interesting because the thing is, I’m actually quite comfortable in saying “I don’t know and I’m confused” and here’s the reason why.
So when you have a problem or a something that you want to be able to figure out and find the solution to, there is an infinite number of all the potential outcomes, possibilities, solutions, ideas and all these things can spur off from there that can take you in the direction of being able to make your mind up. You can then either “know” or make a decision, so that you are not confused and that you feel much more knowledgable about things.
There are, at the point of confusion, multiple potential outcome, but as soon as you’ve decided which one its going to be, so as soon as you’ve fixed your mind on the solution or answer or the knowingness that you are seeking, as soon as you have that; you lose all of the other ways in which you could have known. When you’re in a state of confusion, when you’re in that state, you have possibilities. There are many different answers out there for you when you don’t know and you’re in a state of confusion. You’re in the best possible situation to be able to see the wood for the trees and to be able to search and make your mind up, really exploring all those possibilities that exist out there.
However as soon as you have decided and you have made up your mind, then you become fixated on it and even though you might know that this happens, you still cant stop it from happening! Its called confirmation bias.
So as soon as you fix your mind on the fact that uh now I know, now I have the answer, now this thing is solved. You lose the opportunity to see all of the other various answers that might be available for you out there. The people that know about confirmation bias still get caught out by confirmation bias! So you basically start researching all of the ideas around that thing you have decided, that back up it up and rule out all of the other stuff.
So the chap with the climate change example that I gave you, he had decided that actually climate change isn’t real and doesn’t exist and as a result of fixing his mind on that, he then couldn’t see all of the other arguments that might counter the argument that he had. He only believes his own story and we do all do that in other areas of life.
Confusion, not knowing and being honest about it is actually a good thing. Keep your mind open to all of the possibilities and be relaxed about the fact that maybe you don’t have the answers yet, that the answers will come and give yourself enough time to really research what they might be, so you don’t jump into a conclusion too quickly and then later find out that it was the wrong one.