Being comfortable with uncertainty eliminates an amazing amount of stress in my life. It gives me time and energy back that comes from trying to force certainty in a place of uncertainty. What do I mean by uncertainty?
I mean not knowing for sure. Not knowing things like what happens after we die? What happens before we were born? What’s going to happen tomorrow? what should I do now? What should I do next week? That’s what uncertainty looks like, not knowing. I’m okay with not knowing whether or not you’re going to like this video.
It allows me to be at peace with how things are and how to live in this moment. If you start noticing how much effort people put into being sure and to convincing and talking themselves into thinking they know something in a situation where they know uncertainty is more honest and comprehensive. That’s why there’s so much debate over religion and the afterlife because people want to know what happens after they die.
The desire for that certainty where there’s obvious uncertainty causes so much trouble, anxiety and debate. The need to kill other people that don’t agree with you because people that don’t agree with you are shaking your foundation of certainty. If everyone around you said something then it must be true, right? You can see why uncertainty is so helpful because it makes things simple. I don’t know what happens after this body dies. I can guess it’s similar to whatever went on before this body was formed. I can guess that life goes on but the truth is I don’t know in a way that I can explain it in words.
I can remember being alive so that seems simple enough. The power of saying I don’t know eliminates the need for any argument. When someone talks about politics, I don’t know if honest because I could try and make an opinion one way or another but the truth is I don’t know. Maybe I do know more about some issues than others, but when I’m just allowing for uncertainty I can completely answer a question.
The truth is I don’t know exactly when I’m going to leave. I don’t know if the plane’s actually going to take off. Technology puts this weird aura on life where you feel certain about so many things.
I am lucky my internet works almost all the time. I can always upload a video when I want to. The roads are clear and I can drive and get what I need with little interference. We are used to living in a world where the power is on all the time. You get a false sense that everything is known and certain. In some cases it might be, but the problem is whenever that matrix of known certainty has a little hole in it.
Asking what your spouse is out doing tonight can be a perfect excuse to wonder what they could be doing. If you could open up to the concept of “I don’t know” everything would be easier. Why, for most of my life, did I try to act like a know it all. I was afraid for most of my life that I would look bad or stupid or like I didn’t know what I was doing.
I try to BS an answer all the time in everything. The thing I was most afraid of in a job interview was saying I don’t know to a question. I would always try and find some answer even if it was wrong. A lot of the time you will read that it’s better to give a wrong answer than to say I don’t know. The truth is you have to ask yourself if you want to work for someone that can’t handle your honest answer.
When you ask for help it’s a lot easier to start by saying I don’t know, can you please help me than to say I know everything. It’s a lot easier to have an open mind and say I don’t know and I’m willing to learn more.
I want to work with people who are honest because it makes it so much easier. I try and be as honest in all aspects of my life which forces me to say I don’t know in a lot of situations. People ask me what am I going to do later tonight. The truth is I don’t know. I can guess I might play Call of Duty, Heroes of the Storm, or Battlefield. Embracing uncertainty eliminates the need to be anxious. You can see that even though I’m overflowing with energy I have almost no anxiety. I’m here in the moment and that’s enough.
Anxiety is something I’ve struggled a lot with in my life. Being comfortable with uncertainty allows me to not get anxious. You get anxious from hypocrisy. You get anxious from trying to act like you know and then feeling deep down the truth that you don’t know. That conflict produces anxiety. I remember one day realizing what anxiety was. I didn’t even know what anxiety was most of my life. I just knew I wanted it to stop when I felt whatever it was. I associated it with things I could do to stop it. I hated feeling the short of breath and tenseness that comes with anxiety.
Since I’ve opened up being uncertain about things and accepted that, anxiety doesn’t come at all compared to how it used to come. For every one time I get anxious now, there are about 100 times I got anxious before. Now when I get anxious, I also see the chance to not get anxious. It comes from trying to live in and project in the future and act like I know. I don’t know what I’m going to do tomorrow. I don’t know what I’m going to be doing 10 minutes from now. I might be doing a video, I might not.
Some people might look at that like weakness, those are people that you don’t want in your life. You feel all this suffering when whatever you said doesn’t work out.
I used to be hell on a schedule. If I said I was going to be there at 6, I was going to be there at 6. It would make me miserable if I couldn’t be there at 6 because that certainty would break down. It means I was dishonest. It’s a lot easier to just be uncertain than to try and force certainty all the time. It’s a lot easier to accept when things don’t go according to a plan when you’re not being exactly planable all the time.
I’m often late to things because I’m kind of optimistic. I figure I can do more things than I have time for. I often will get to things 5 – 10 minutes late. If I often am taking things a little easier, I will get there 5 – 10 minutes early. I used to be on time to most things because I would hurry and if I was early, I would stall and come in right at the last moment.
I liked that certainty. If I said 6, I didn’t mean 5:55 or 6:05, I meant 6. That takes a hell of a lot of work. It’s a lot easier to give yourself a 10 minute window and say you’ll be there between 5 – 5:15. That’s the power of uncertainty. Once you start seeing how many of the world’s structures are set up for certainty in the face of obvious uncertainty, then you can see how crazy it is. For example, life after death is an obvious uncertainty. There are all kinds of people who have died or had near death experiences and came back to describe it. In many of the cases, the experiences are consistent. They will often talk about afterlife and yet they all are a little bit different too. Even if you look at what other people have said, you can’t have certainty about your afterlife experience.
It seems certain there isn’t an afterlife because there’s life everywhere all over all the time. If you don’t look separate from life, you see that life always has been and always will be and is not going anywhere. There’s so much uncertainty around the details. It’s a lot easier to say you will live this moment than it is to tell someone where they’re going to go when they die. The anxiety comes up when you try and think about where they’re going to go. Your mind will remind you in the background of evidence contrary to whatever evidence you’re presenting. It’s a lot easier to just keep it simple and not try and project out certainty.
For example, the hardest part of starting a business is the uncertainty. One year ago, my debt was continuing to grow, I was struggling to make any money, these Udemy courses weren’t making anything. There was a ton of uncertainty. Now everything is working well today. I have lots of sales and all kinds of great things happening. That same uncertainty is still there. I don’t know what tomorrow will look like. The same uncertainty that was here a year ago is still here now, it’s just in a different form.
If you would have told me that my sales would be 30x what they were about a year ago, I would’ve said that’s ridiculous. I don’t know what could happen next year. My sales could be zero next year. My sales could be up more. That’s what gets to people starting a business.
A business plan is the result of spending hours and hours trying to predict the future. It’s usually used for investments. For example, I made a business plan about 3.5 years ago. I tried to plan out all the things my company would do and it’s way better than any plan would have predicted. However, it didn’t succeed immediately. In fact, it went way worse than any plan would have predicted for several years.
A business plan is a perfect example. Instead of saying show me what you’re doing today. I want to see what you’re doing today and I will invest. Instead of doing that for a business, all these big, elaborate plans are made. Everyone that’s honest about it knows that the plans are almost never accurate. The sales chart numbers always have an increasing curve. Some of them are more honest and go up and down, but the plans almost never match the reality. That’s exactly what is attempted every time a business makes a business plan.
Someone says they want to make a hundred thousand dollars and they have clear proof of what’s going to happen in the future even when both the business owner and the lender know that’s not going to happen. There’s nothing wrong with planning, you need to plan. There’s a big difference, though in doing planning and being certain about what is planned.
I’m comfortable with uncertainty today because it’s so much easier. I got here okay somehow. I’ve been through all eternity okay. Why worry about the rest of eternity. Now is good enough. I’m not sure about what happened before or what will happen after.
If you take a look at criminal trials, how much time and effort goes into reconstructing one thing that happened on one day in the past? The obvious truth that surrounds everyone doing that is that you don’t know. The same thing goes with watching the news. The first time you’ve ever been at a news story and see the complete opposite come out of what you actually saw. The whole matrix starts to fall apart.
You can start to see that everything in life is a creative artwork. It is someone’s idea about how things are. With that goes the certainty. What you see on the news, did that really happen? You don’t know because you weren’t there. Even if you were there, you’re memory of it may not reflect what someone else’s memory of the event reflects. I was a police officer and witness testimony is a disaster because of this.
The truth is when you ask two people what happened. Rarely are both of them exactly certain of the exact same thing. That makes it easy I just try and stay in the moment today especially when unexpected things happen. I accept the uncertainty around them.
My grandmother passed away a few days ago now. Most of my life I would’ve immediately got anxious with wondering what I was going to do in the future. I said out loud a couple of times “I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do. I don’t know if I’m going to the funeral.” I asked people what I should do and I listened. It then became obvious I should go, so I’m going. I think I am going, I have made plans to go, but I won’t know if I’m going until I’m here.
I pray today that I maintain my comfort level with uncertainty. I pray that I’m willing to say that I don’t know in most situations and to try and share what I do know when it’s helpful or what is useful when it’s helpful. Through that I’m free for the anxiety misery and stress that comes with trying to put certainty over the face of uncertainty. I pray that you have the ability today to get passed all the uncertainty in your life and to be able to share it without fear of how people will treat you. I’m honored I’ve shared this with you, I don’t know what you will think of it. I hope it’s good and useful. I value your feedback, it encourages me to keep doing these. I do these on such a regular basis because I’ve gotten so much positive feedback. I am honored you’ve continued to spend so much time with me and I hope you have a great day today.