Written by Philippa Perry

Lifestyle

The Meaning of… Having To Know

Psychotherapist Philippa Perry continues putting stuff under her special microscope in an attempt to magnify its meaning. This week, she takes a look at the notion of our need to know.

Meaning Know

We are crap at not knowing stuff. It makes us so uncomfortable that we make stuff up to fill in the gaps and take our conjecture for fact. We also like to make up meanings where there are none, and mere theory becomes truth in our minds.

Our discomfort with uncertainty means we expect authorities and leaders to be more certain than it’s probably possible to be. We want politicians to make definite predictions about the future without the benefit of hindsight, and we expect our doctors not to entertain any mysteries about the human body. We want them to be certain about what’s wrong and what needs to be done.

I think psychologically we sometimes rest in a place where and when we felt safer. When Mummy and Daddy knew everything and knew best. And we look for such authority figures in adult life.

The alternative to putting a brave face on doesn’t mean falling apart, it means becoming comfortable with what we don’t know.

Maybe it’s time to grow up by embracing uncertainty, to allow ourselves to not know and feel no shame in that. Our old view may have been there was strength in certainty rather than in acknowledging and sharing vulnerability.

The alternative to putting a brave face on doesn’t mean falling apart, it means becoming comfortable with what we don’t know.

If we look back in history, the candidates who have displayed the most certainty when giving speeches have not turned out to be the safest or the sanest of leaders.

But in times of austerity we crave the comfort of their apparent all-knowingness. I think we’d do better if we went for a thoughtful, unsure, softly spoken leader, but I might be wrong.

745 Views
Share:
  • googleplus
  • linkedin
  • rss
  • pinterest

Written by Philippa Perry

White middle-class-aged woman psychotherapist, author, journalist, occasional broadcaster. Likes watching telly, tweeting, eating and lying down. Great hair.