There is so much information out there on all matters possible; some information is based on good-quality research and some on opinions and feelings and everything in between. In this era of information, I, and I believe many with me, sometimes get stuck in wanting to know what “the right” information is. I want an expert to tell me how I should do things right and then that’s that, I don’t have to think about it anymore. And why do we want to know what is “right”? Because we humans generally don’t like being in doubt, or hey, anything uncomfortable (that doesn’t give us anything back anyway) if we can help it.
The “problem” with relying on experts and getting stuck in wanting to know the “right” answer is that what is right/the best thing to do depends on so many things. Take mental health tips as an example. The tip to exercise is generally a good one, but if you suffer from severe burnout, exercise might not be what you should prioritize. And then come the questions: what do we mean when we say exercise? What is that, really? A certain heart rate for a certain amount of time? How do I know when I have exercised “enough”? Is “enough” different for different people?
To spice it up some more, information can also confirm what we already know (which we generally like, this is called confirmation bias) or cause inner conflicts within us because it goes against something we have gotten used to/like/do already (this is called cognitive dissonance, and yes, we generally don’t like this). How we receive information also depends very much on our setting: social norms, culture, and values, as also our temperament and personality traits. Research has also shown that we are generally not so interested in listening to new information but rather to preach what we know. I could go on and on with more information on information, but let’s cut to the point.
I say being in doubt has many benefits. It means you haven’t made up your mind and hopefully, you are willing to open up to different options. Being in doubt means that you don’t know what is best, and maybe that’s exactly it – what is “best” depends on from whose perspective you are looking. I encourage you to reflect on next time you feel certain about something – what is that? Do you feel certain because you have found the right arguments to back it up? It feels right? Everybody else does whatever it is? You were raised that way? Is it “best” for you or all beings? I encourage you and me to be curious about our certainty.
And hey, there is nothing wrong with feeling certain, exactly like there is nothing wrong with feeling in doubt. These are merely states that go with the human experience. What matters is what we do with it.