I Don't Know…and That's Okay!

I don’t know. Many years ago, this was the phrase on my phone wallpaper and I’ll never forget why. I had been dealing with a highly stressful situation for months. One day, I stumbled upon what someone had crafted as a funny phone wallpaper. It stopped me dead in my tracks. As I read the words, I realized that these were the three words behind my anxiety. Reading them was calming me down. So, I put it up as my phone wallpaper. Every time I read the words, “I don’t know,” I would whisper to myself “…and that’s okay!”

Known and Unknown, everything that happens, happens in the middle of these two realities. It’s the delicate moment balancing on the crest of our exhale and inhale. Known is the past, and unknown is the future. 

Out of our primal fear of survival, we try to minimize “the unknown” in the unknown. Yet, the future remains unknown. Our idea of safety remains just that, an idea. In reality, no one can predict what the next second of our lives brings to us. 

Letting go of our “idea of safety” to embrace the “truth of the unknown” can feel uncomfortable. But, this is a necessary step that we must lovingly usher ourselves into. After all, the road to truth is paved with nothing but…the truth.

A Fine Balance: How I Learned to Ride the Emotional Waves

I remember when the whole hype for positive thinking started. I just wondered how it made any sense. How was running towards positive thinking any different from our addiction to safety, wealth, and power? Our natural human tendency to hoard all the good things and run from all the scary things would have to take over at some point. Our trust in life would diminish as our faith in ability to control things strengthened. Eventually, we would start using our power of positive thinking to manipulate more wealth and control into our lives. Eventually, we would deny anything we consider negative and only acknowledge what we would “like” to happen. Wouldn’t we become blind to one half of reality?

Reality is both positive and negative. As far as anyone I knew (and still know) no one was given the power to see the future. All I knew for sure was that the next second could feel good or bad, it could be positive or negative. So, I concluded that in order to accept reality, I had to accept both positive and negative. This is how I became friends with my neutral mind. I started seeing its importance and it showed me a whole new world.

Instead of aiming for a positive mind, I say, aim for a neutral mind. The closer we are to neutral, the closer we are to reality. Reality is always neutral. Life is always neutral. The mind fluctuates between high and low. Neutral is right smack in the middle of the two experiences. The closer we remain to neutral, our highs and lows become less intense.

For a simple example, sometimes we use alcohol to reach a high. It takes us to quite a “high” high. When it wears off, life/reality will naturally pull the mind towards itself, a neutral state. The higher the high, the greater the pull, hence the drop will have a higher speed. As we drop towards neutral, the speed will not let us stop only at neutral. It will take us below neutral, hence then we experience what is called depression, a negative mind. What goes up, must come down, and what goes down must also come up.

Alcohol has a high velocity upwards, so the journey downwards will also be quite fast. To avoid the crash, we use more alcohol or stronger drugs. The important thing to understand is that due to the laws of nature, the crash cannot be avoided. Only the length of high can be lengthened.

We may not be able to keep the mind at a neutral state at all times but maintaining closer proximity to neutral will lessen the speed of fluctuations. We won’t be easily thrown around from one state to another because of our circumstances. Basically, we will be able to stand with a better balance. We will experience a more balanced state of mind. A more balanced mind gives us clarity for vision just like a more balanced stance.

Our tendency is to leap towards the positive and fear the negative. Which probably keeps us afloat but overtime our habit to avoid turns obsessive and compulsive. As long as it’s left unchecked, it will run our decision making. It has power over us. We are enslaved to it. Others can easily manipulate us into doing what they want us to do by dangling in front of us our drug of choice (food, exercise, gossip, entertainment, work, relationships, children, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc).

In order to rise out of our personal challenge, we must understand the importance of a neutral mind. We have got to want it or we will not reach for it. Instead, we will always reach for anything that brings us a quick high. We must understand how temporary the high is and how easily and inevitably the high turns into a low. When we understand how destructive it is to our own life, we will want different, and then choose different. Out of understanding of ourselves, we will create a new habit of returning to neutral mind so our experience at neutral is strengthened and lengthened.

This is not to say that we should not be positive. On the contrary, this makes us more positive because we aren’t putting up unrealistic expectations for the universe to fulfill. Instead, we trust that whatever will happen, no matter how it appears to us, positive or negative, we can handle it. Our motivation for living changes from pleasure-seeking to learning. Instead of using things and people as a means to avoid our fears of safety, loneliness, etc., we are able to “explore” them while they last.