The deceptive allure of certainty

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” – Anais Nin

Do you ever look back and reflect on things that you thought were absolute fact, black and white, only to realise that those “facts” have become rather more fluid now that you have evolved as a professional, learned more, asked different questions, and gained a broader perspective through experience?

Do you look back at the you of some years ago and shake your ahead about how very certain you were about things?

Sometimes you misremember this as confidence…and wonder where this has gone.

Don’t feel wobbly. Not being so darned definite may be the only intelligent and mature state of being. Having a flexible and open mind does not infer naivety or ignorance — it instead acknowledges that new questions will always be asked, new perspectives offered, new research emerging.  What was evidence based last year may not be so this year, or it may be applied in a completely fresh way. Being very certain last year might leave egg on your face this year.

There is strength in embracing possibilities, not just probabilities. We of course must stay abreast of what is being researched and observe the best of practice – this isn’t an excuse to be uninformed. We must gather the knowledge, synthesise it and apply it with relevance and confidence, yet still understand that it is only a snapshot of where we are now, and that it is a part of a larger picture. Someone will always come along to subvert the “facts”, and we can’t just dismiss them as “outliers” when they are in front of us, as can be done when they are just a statistic.

We may never be able to truly measure everything in a way that is meaningful and accurate about the human individual … and I like that. I relish the mystery that slips through the cracks of our attempts to contain and control it. It creates the challenge and the sense of awe that our bodies and minds inspire as we continue our quest to understand it.

It leaves me space to be an individual working with individuals – being informed by research but using my skills to identify the gaps and reason the connections, to celebrate the unique and rise to its challenges instead of being dictated to by protocols. It also leaves room to respect the individual, to learn from them and recognise the questions that they raise, which in turn should feed the knowledge quest.

True confidence leaves room for the possibility of something entirely new emerging tomorrow that may wonderfully turn what seemed certain all upside down.

Embrace the contradictions, celebrate the uncertainties – that’s often where the biggest leaps of understanding occur.

JEMS Movement ART Mentored Learning Programme supports rehabilitation/healthcare professionals to find their confidence in a secure but dynamic structure that bridges the gap between research and practice. Find yourself in JEMS here. 

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