When We’re Wrong to Accept Ambiguity

In August I wrote a piece called “I Don’t Know.”  about how some people need to always give an answer, even when they clearly have no idea what they’re talking

man who has fallen off the front of a surfboard, two feet protruding upward on either side of the board, body submerged.

Some people hide from the truth, preferring a murky and unsustainable existence while missing the great experiences and view in front of them.

about. Today I address the flip side of that to talk about how some people lock ambiguity in a bear hug and hold on to it for dear life.

They engage in a Gregorian chant of “I don’t know. They claim a need for irrefutable proof in order to accept the truth. They call this certainty, or even closure. For instance, when a terrible event like the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center leaves no reason to believe there are any additional survivors, some family members insisted Herculean efforts be made to find and identify the remains before they would accept that their loved one had died. It is the same with widespread natural disasters, horrific plane crashes, fires, or a building collapse.

Insisting on irrefutable truth gives us the excuse to stay stuck where we are in our grief and pain and anger. We hold on to a shred of imagined uncertainty so that we do not have to move forward. We close the door to what is and stay mired in what was.

It’s not only instances of death where we prefer to hold on to uncertainty. For instance, we stay mired in what was when we:

  • Choose to reject positive tests results that reveal a learning disability or physical abnormality in our child and seek exhaustive additional testing rather than face facts with courage and make a plan to move forward based on an unpleasant reality.
  • Elect to purchase a house at a teaser interest rate, without the financial means to make the significantly higher payments when that rate ends. We tell ourselves that some magic will occur just in the nick of time so that everything will work out all right.
  • Fall for the idea that our home is worth 50% more than it was 18 months ago, despite our having done nothing to improve it, and proceed to borrow against the falsely inflated value.
  • Elect to try ever-increasingly unproven treatments to halt an unresponsive cancer or disease, without knowing whether we’re receiving the real treatment or a placebo, instead of making the most of the time we have left. (This is different from the people who agree to become test subjects in the hope that their efforts lead to a cure for someone else.)

Choose Your Reality

Life is not for sissies. It takes courage to be open to what is and to move forward in a new reality. The alternative is to stop living life as it is and live in a Neverland fantasy. When we live in a fantasy, we miss all of what real life has to offer us, not just the pain we want desperately to avoid, but the richness of relationships and experiences that are hidden by the veneer of false hope and false reality.

We don’t get to choose our reality, but we can choose whether we live it, or hide from it.

Live Honest, Open and True

The choice is ours. The next time you are facing something exceptionally difficult, will you embrace it and spend your days living in open acceptance of your true life? Or, will you hide from the truth and live the lie of your imagination?

How do you handle it when faced with something difficult? What gets you through it? Tweet me @lifeishotblog with the hash tag #LifeIsHOT!

Related Posts: Truth or Consequences

Don’t Tell Me You Don’t Have Time

It’s All Your Fault

Doin’ It Hard, or Doin’ It Easy


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0 Responses to When We’re Wrong to Accept Ambiguity

  1. Pingback: What Happens After You Do the Thing You Think You Cannot Do? | LifeIsHOTblog

  2. Pingback: Hear with an Open Heart | LifeIsHOTblog

  3. Eileen, I think when we’re faced with something unthinkable, it is easier to accept what is and move forward if we’re in the habit already, but I believe that anyone can take a fresh look and recognize he or she has been hiding from the truth. Wisdom can happen at any time!

  4. Some really great points here, D’Anne. This point made me stop and think a little bit. “We don’t get to choose our reality, but we can choose whether we live it, or hide from it.” I guess the only way we “choose” our reality hinges (at least partly) on how we responded prior to finding ourselves in that reality. That is why living wisely become so important. Good stuff.

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