Episode 35 – No Doubt that ‘Certainty’ Just Might Be Breaking Us

35: No Doubt that ‘Certainty’ Just Might Be Breaking Us | #walkwithme

“Certainty is a closing of the mind. To create something new you must have doubt.”

“Certainty is a closing of the mind. To create something new you must have doubt.”

 – Milton Glaser

About This Episode:

In this episode of “#WalkWithMe” I talk about patterns—our automatic thoughts, behaviors, actions—and present the challenge to use this forced pause to break the habits and relationships that no longer serve us. 

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I’m seeing a ‘pattern’ of patterns in that many of us are holding onto recurring thoughts, behaviors, even relationships that are creating emotional weight and that we might need to let go. This pandemic brought a screeching halt to many of our patterns, and I’m choosing to see this time as an opportunity to review, reassess and reconfigure habits that might be cracking.   

A lot of us get stuck in routine and patterns of thinking, behaviors and relationships. I think at the core of it lies a basic human need for certainty. We all crave it. We need it. We need growth, significance and contribution. If you rank where people really are in terms of their core needs, where would you put certainty? For a lot of people, it’s at the top. Therein lies the foundation of a pattern. The reason we stick to certain beliefs or thoughts is because we’ve had those same thoughts so many times in our lives, that the act of going back to that thought gives us a certainty that makes us feel good—even if that thought isn’t good for us or gives us pain. Sometimes the pain of uncertainty is more painful than that associated with certainty. This is why breaking bad habits is so difficult. We’ve conditioned it over and over again and attached the certainty we get from it, which makes it so hard for us to let go. 

Right now, we’re in a climate where everything we know is being stretched, broken or changed: careers, relationships, our identity. And so, we cling to what feels comfortable or ‘normal,’ even when it’s not healthy for us.

So, what do we do about it? 

  1. Review if it’s something that serves you.
  2. Replace the negative with the positive. 
  3. Pursue habits and relationships that help you build more positive patterns. 

Every change (shift) starts with awareness. You can’t change something you’re unaware of. Ask yourself questions like: Does this still serve me? Is this relationship still positive for me? Is this what I really want? Honestly review your patterns as they start to crack before you instantly return to auto-pilot. Within that awareness is an opportunity to filter, select, unwind or let go.

Once you’re aware of a negative pattern, swap it out for a more positive one. The more toxic thoughts and behaviors you shift into positive ones, the healthier and happier you can become.  

It’s about breaking the ties of certainty that we are clinging to for thoughts, habits and relationships that no longer serve us; every shift leads us towards what we’re meant to do and who we’re meant to be. If we use this time to filter and reset, I think we’ll be able to look back at 2020 not just as a bunch of crises but also as a time of renewal, reinvention and advancement when it comes to ourselves, our lives and the community around us. 

My hope: Let’s understand that patterns that are breaking is not necessarily a bad thing; the weight we feel is that we are clinging onto certainty. We need to shift those feelings away from negative things to healthier, positive things. And let’s figure out what things we can focus on and put our energy towards to build new routines that benefit us.

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