We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

Only by standing in the unknown can those things we don't know come to us. This is much easier than it sounds. To stand in uncertainty and the unknown is not a natural thing for us. This pokes at our emotional need for autonomy, for us to feel like we are in control.

The brain evolved to become a prediction machine over the course of its evolution. This is how it serves its primary function, survival. The probability of survival increases when risk is minimized and predictability minimizes risk. The brain evolved numerous processes we all subconsciously employ to ensure predictability. After we become conditioned with our subjective loops, we simply perpetuate the loop. This is why many refer to what we experience as simulations. They are all predictions made by the brain and most of the time the brain predicts accurately. But every so often it is wrong and we get startled. We get startled physically, and emotionally. This is a prediction error and when it is significant enough to question a belief we have, it is a pattern interruption and can cause trauma.

The unknown scares the hell out of the brain. It becomes bewildered, confused even. It’ll resort to making something up just to ease this dissonance. This is referred to as restoration of the missing fundamental and all brains do this naturally and very well.

The brain also has what I like to refer to as infinite potential in unpredictable environments. It’s why we are so adaptable. But this is an option mode for the brain, it must be developed. The only way to develop this is to get comfortable standing in the unknown and this requires us accepting that we don’t know what we don’t know. This seems very simple in theory but it is near impossible for many to implement. The reason is fear. Our fear of the unknown runs us because we need to feel like we are in control. We also must create the perfect balance between fear and comfort to avoid pattern interruptions.

The way we can start to navigate this is to understand notion of the bitter and the sweet. Fear is not the only thing that resides in the unknown. Hope, growth and courage also reside in the unknown. Love can reside in the unknown. Transcendence can reside in the unknown. The unknown is where change occurs. It is where emotional energy can be transmuted. It is where we can create.

The unknown is a scary place when we operate from our default setting, but it doesn't have to be. Exploration occurs when we are in the unknown and this is one our most authentic states. Children have no real fears until they are conditioned into them. As adults we have to condition fears out of us and this starts with accepting that we don't know what we don't know.

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Elliot is a personal development author. His latest book, "The Bitter & The Sweet: Benefits of a Balanced Perspective in Life, and How to Achieve It" out now.

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Elliot Yi

Elliot Yi

Elliot is a personal development author. His latest book, "The Bitter & The Sweet: Benefits of a Balanced Perspective in Life, and How to Achieve It" out now.

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