If my future is uncertain, doesn't that imply lack of competence?

Uncertainty. What a dirty word.

Not that I’m all that concerned about words that got my mouth washed out with soap when I was a child. That shit just doesn’t matter to me like it does to my mom.

What matters right now is how much I was trained to associate competence with Knowing, with being Certain:

  • Of the answer.
  • Of what’s happened.
  • Of what to do in the future.

But I don’t know The Answer. Yeah 2 + 2 = 4 (but is that true in other galaxies?). I know the time I got up today (513am) but not the myriad of dynamics that affected my sleep and my daughter’s and partners. What we ate, when we napped (or didn’t), metabolizing stresses and joys…

Wow, so much uncertainty that comes when we’re aware of the complex dynamics of inner and outer living!

And what to in the future? Hahahaha.

Makes me wonder if they still teach creating a Five Year Business Plan as part of getting an MBA still.

So how does competence fit here, then, if not on getting the test about the future correct?

For me, I believe that my Real Skills stack up and structurally support my resilience. Competence with real skills matters now… and I actually do know they will matter even more in my future (and ours).

It also feels like this past year (and my whole lifetime) I’ve watched as arrogant “experts” have asserted what is going to happen – for sure this time! – only to see it NOT happen.

Uncertainty can be embraced… for our thriving!

While I still require pretty regular revisiting and reassurance, my mind is accepting that it is in the uncertainty that thriving grows. No, I don’t mean uncertainty about essentials. Survival living is HARD, and I want a healthy dose of certainty for all humans around water, food, clothing, shelter, and love.

Beyond those essentials, there’s a vast field of Potentials, uncertain who or whether they will be manifest. Being in the improvisation of life is NOT a sign of incompetence. Indeed, it feel like an incredibly wise and resourceful real skill to cultivate – for me, for we, for our children, for our thriving.

I'm curious how the pursuit of certainty affects you, and how embracing a bit more improv into your intentions feels to the different parts of you. Would you be willing to share?

Love, @Rick


There was once a farmer in ancient China who owned a horse. “You are so lucky!” his neighbours told him, “to have a horse to pull the cart for you.” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

One day he didn’t latch the gate properly and the horse ran off. “Oh no! What a disaster!” his neighbours cried. “Such terrible misfortune!” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

A few days later the horse returned, bringing with it six wild horses. “How fantastic! You are so lucky,” his neighbours told him. “Now you are rich!” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The following week the farmer’s son was breaking-in one of the wild horses when it kicked out and broke his leg. “Oh no!” the neighbours cried, “such bad luck, all over again!” “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next day soldiers came and took away all the young men to fight in the war. The farmer’s son was left behind. “You are so lucky!” his neighbours cried. “Maybe,” the farmer replied.

To want certainty is one thing…to require or demand it is another it seems to me. I think that being overly invested into the desire for certainty is very problematic. I know that in a million ways from my own experience. For example I easily get over-invested in the need for a certain outcome when I’m working on a project. Not only does the perfect outcome seldom occur despite all my heartistry, sincerity and best efforts but the stress induced by the need for a certainty of outcome during the process of creating is really tiring and burdensome I find. It will quite predictably drain the possibility of joy from any activity.

For quite awhile now I’ve been considering that ‘certainty/uncertainty’ is the most fundamental, primal yin/yang dynamic of human existence…of the existence of any being on this planet. I’ve found that I can reduce most problematic emotions, behaviours and thoughts to a struggle for balance between certainty/uncertainty. It seems to me that certainty/uncertainty is the underlying dynamic of safety/danger or even survival/thrival. Creating and maintaining a base level of certainty ensures survival but to stretch out beyond that into thriving you need to get comfortable with the bodily sensations of uncertainty.

We’ve removed so much physical survival uncertainty from our lives in modern, industrialized society that I sometimes wonder if the experience of uncertainty has now shifted primarily to the emotional/psychological realm (anxiety/depression) as a result and I question whether most of that uncertainty is ‘real’ or actually artificially created and manufactured through media and our own thinking. Certainty can only exist in relationship to uncertainty…it can’t exist on it’s own…we need one as much as we need the other.

I think that most of us who believe we are searching for (or have already found) truth or facts are actually really searching for the experience of certainty. The need to experience certainty is much more a part of our ancestral blueprint than the need for truth or facts. This is evidenced by the preponderance of people who have beliefs that are easily demonstrated to be false and even harmful to themselves but they persist because of the sense of certainty they experience by having beliefs and ideas that feel familiar. I know that this dynamic plays out in me and some of the beliefs that I cling to. In the social/political arena it’s my observation that that aspect of ‘certainty’ is at epidemic proportions currently. Certainty can be a powerful sedative that can put to sleep any further desire to search for other ways of knowing and being.

As always I’m a work in progress…I’m certain of that…not in all areas of life but in a few areas of my life I’m full on 100% invested in the need for and the promise of not just certainty but… CERTAINTY!!. I seek to free myself from that need because I can sense a great freedom beyond it.


Hey Rick; Most often, the pursuit of certainty ties me up in ‘nots’ :grimacing: I get anxious, I get frustrated, I get angry – all those outward bound feelings to stop what is, essentially, the fear of not-knowing.

When it occurred to me to makes friends with not-knowing – a ‘suggestion’ made during a journal-writing session – I did the only thing I could think of doing: tap :wink:

I’ve done it many times by now – just start tapping while whining and ranting about how I don’t know, I’ll never know, why the sweet hell don’t I know; I should know, why can’t I know…blah blah blah… Until the big sigh (Aaaahhhhh…) and there I am, grinning again, mind clear again, and moving effortlessly into whatever it is I CAN do at that moment.

Sure, it’s not a permanent ‘cure’, but it has gotten me past those frozen-panic moments when uncertainty looms (an almost permanent state in 2020!) and I’m feeling helpless.

Can’t overstate how helpful EFT/tapping has been over the years! Cheerio! Jo


So much useful perspectives for me to consider, Glenn. For me especially the link between safety and certainty for the primitive brain, and the note that with so much of our “uncertainty” is not the same as it was for our ancestors (survival), we’ve moved so many of those drives and strains into the psychological/emotional… and may be (cough cough) making the threat of uncertainty out of proportional to any kind of real survival challenge.


That’s a great tapping sequence of steps!


I’ve used this kind of free-fall tapping for years and have found it useful when I’m overwhelmed and just can NOT find a specific reason for the fear or anger or emotional droop or whatever (I’ve also used this for physical pain ie headache). Typically, once the initial disruption is soothed, the ‘reason’ becomes clearer and I can go on from there.

Recently, I’ve also been using Steve Wells ‘Intention Tapping’ steps with good results. If you’re not familiar with him and his work, you can check it out at eftdownunder.com – yes, he’s in Australia :o)

May the (Tapping) Force be with you all! Cheerio! Jo


See the book

This quote helped this morning… as I consider ALL the moments of incompetence when running ones own business, all the moments where you recognize the gap between what you want to co-create and not knowing pieces that you recognize will be required in order for the endeavor to bear fruit…

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Such a great thread and I just discovered it this morning!! Love that tapping script, @JoPayne. Just tried it while sitting out on the back porch and listening to birds. It helped. I have a lot of anxiety in my body stemming from uncertainty right now. For me this connects with my desire to CONTROL. I can’t control the outcome, other people, the weather, cats, anything…but myself…and that’s a work in progress.

Also, the word competence…when I give trainings to lawyers I tie the information into our ethical and professional duty to be competent. In this case it gives a reason for them to understand the experiences of their colleagues who have marginalized identities in the world. Interesting to read the Seth Godin quote and consider the vulnerability involved in this work. Hard to start in a place of not knowing!

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[quote=“Dru, post:8, topic:336”]
I can’t control the outcome, other people, the weather, cats, anything…but myself…and that’s a work in progress.

Hey Dru – I’m so glad you found that tapping useful. And speaking of ‘work in progress’ (and aren’t we ALL!!!), are you familiar with Byron Katie’s ‘The Work’? Her process (like EFT) is ‘simple’ yet powerful – I’ve often found her ‘questions’ initiate tapping rounds to good effect. And she’s a big advocate for releasing our illusions of ‘control’.

And, sure, uncertainty is damned uncomfortable – but look where it’s leading you! Hooray for YOU, Dru!

:grin: Jo


Thanks, @JoPayne. I read it a decade ago. I’m due for a reread! Thank you! :blue_heart:

So did I read it a decade ago – and I recently bought ‘Loving What Is’ – again! I, too, felt ‘nudged’ to review it… Maybe something in the air, eh??! Or another turn in the learning spiral :o) Jo

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