Controlled Folly: The Delusion of Certainty
Certainty, regarding just about anything, rubs me the wrong way. Our realities, perspectives, thoughts, beliefs and experiences are all so subjective. Who do you think you would be if you were born on the other side of the world, speaking a different language and immersed in a different culture?
You’d be a different person. You would see things completely differently than you do now. Maybe God would be an elephant or the sun.
We don’t tend to think about that when we describe who we are and what we believe. We become attached to our subjective truths as they develop and reinforce themselves and we “hold them to be self-evident”.
This is as true in religion as it is in politics and any other belief system that we choose to embrace and cathect.
I read the Carlos Castaneda trilogy when I was in college. One of things that I was drawn to was that there was so much mystery surrounding the author himself and whether or not what he wrote about was real.
He was an anthropologist and a seeker. He went to Mexico to meet with a Shaman and entered into an apprenticeship of sorts with the Shaman, Don Juan. He learned that:
“A warrior must know he is unimportant, but act as if he is important. That’s a shaman’s controlled folly. Nothing being more important than anything else, a warrior chooses any act, and acts it out as if it mattered to him”
Controlled folly, for me anyway, is a never-ending dance between the earthly and the ethereal. It is knowing what I know and simultaneously recognizing that I know nothing. The music of this dance is often unsettling and discordant. There’s a part of me that reflexively seeks out a familiar pattern or rhythm to rock me back into the illusion of a reality where black is black and white is white.
The delusion of certainty is a human malady that permeates our thoughts, beliefs and relationships. Bertrand Russell, British philosopher and nobel laureate, once said:
“Dogmatism and skepticism are both, in a sense, absolute philosophies; one is certain of knowing, the other of not knowing. What philosophy should dissipate is certainty, whether of knowledge or ignorance”.
A mistake that is all too easy to make in our relationships with our partners and with our kids is, often unwittingly, imposing our certainty on those that we love the most by pigeonholing them, dismissing their thoughts and feelings and assuming that we know more than they do about what they’re thinking and feeling and what they need.
This leads to not listening, making assumptions and seeing only a two-dimensional version of our loved ones. That third dimension gets eclipsed by our projections. Learning to be in relationship in a different way involves cultivating an awareness of our projections and assumptions and getting curious about our loved ones.
There is so much more out there that we cannot see and understand. We live on a tiny planet in one of many galaxies in an expanding universe. What we have accomplished as a species in a relatively short amount of time is astonishing, but the downside is that our accomplishments and advances have contributed to an illusion of omnipotence on many levels.
Speaking of omnipotence :), today is the launch of the Love After Kids Relationship Toolkit, which is my first online program. My hope and plan for this program is that it is a living and dynamic entity that continues to evolve over time with feedback and interaction. My plan is to create a companion parenting toolkit in the fall. I feel confident and excited that there is some great information and resources in the course and I also feel humbled and open to as much feedback as I can possibly get to make it as useful as possible.
There’s a launch promo till the end of March for $200 where you can get $100 off the full $300 price of the course. The coupon code for this is LAUNCHPROMO. There is a Facebook group for members where I will be offering support and answering questions in addition to the peer support. I’m excited about what feels like a next phase for Love After Kids.
I know that love is real, but it’s something you cannot touch or see.
I know that I know many things and that I simultaneously know nothing at all. I know that the truth is a rainbow.
David B. Younger, Ph.D is the creator of Love After Kids, helping couples with their relationships since having children. He is a clinical psychologist and couple’s therapist with a web-based private practice and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Thrive Global. David lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, two kids and toy poodle.
Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com on March 24, 2017.