The Art of Not Knowing

What does not knowing mean to you? Do you go with the flow, or start to sink under the weight of uncertainty? And what is it about not knowing that can challenge us? We live, after all, in a world of unknowns.

To be in a place of not knowing is to experience ambiguity and uncertainty. It is an absence of knowing: the ‘right’ thing to do, what comes next, or which option to choose. You might feel stuck, confused, or lost. It might feel a risky place to be, and that’s hard if you have a modest appetite for risk.

Place of 'not knowing'Perhaps not knowing reminds us that we’re not really in control of what happens, we can’t connect the dots looking forward, and we don’t have a map. It sets us adrift.

We question our sense of autonomy and self-determination. We look our vulnerable human selves in the eye.

Yet taking ownership of not knowing is both powerful and empowering.

Dan Siegel refers to the window of tolerance, an optimal arousal zone within which we continue to function effectively. For each of us our window – and therefore our natural tolerance of not knowing – differs in size. This window is also influenced by the state of our mind and body on any given day (so things really can look better in the morning).

To become more comfortable in a place of not knowing you need to open your window. By expanding your parameters of tolerance through mindful awareness you increase your capacity to operate in the face of not knowing. And, on reaching your edges, you can draw on resources (perhaps psychological, intellectual, relational, or spiritual) to support your sense of self.

Not knowing is a place of inspiration, creativity, and transformation. It takes courage to let go of your attachment to expectations and outcomes, and explore fully your experience. But to embrace not knowing is to live with greater freedom, flexibility, and resilience.

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