Getting to Know the Unknown

What do you want to know, but are afraid to ask?

What do you look at, but are afraid to see?

What do you believe, but are afraid to say?

We're incongruent in so many aspects of our lives, and constantly in conflict around what to bring into the light, and what to leave in the dark. 

In the same way disease can grow in the body when we ignore symptoms, bad feelings become insidiously damaging unless we are willing to bring a flashlight into to the unconscious to see what's there. 

The unknown is scary. It's also uncontrollable and unpredictable. Denial is a powerful tool that comes in handy when we need protection from overwhelming experiences, but this defense can handicap us by weakening our tolerance for life's natural pain.

Drugs and alcohol offer the same relief by masking the psychological and physical pain we don't want to know intimately, only to serve as a temporary solution to the hurt.

There's a concept in psychology called object permanence. It's the understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be perceived. Young children develop object permanence by touching and handling objects and learning that even though mom is in the other room, she continues to be.

As adults we have to accept that aspects of ourselves - and the world -continue to subsist even if we don't perceive or know of them. Your heart beats even though you don't feel it, and your ex-lover walks the earth in spite of your wish that he didn't.

Facing reality, the truth or the natural pain of life is a developmental achievement. Growing up is hard and scary, but keeping things small and safe limits the opportunity for joy and meaning as well.

Curiosity, acceptance and courage to embrace the unknown while acknowledging that fear can be both an obstacle and opportunity for growth, are the keys to making peace with reality.

Getting to know your unknowns is one of the greatest paths to being whole.

Photo by Xuan Nguyen on Unsplash

Andra Brosh, Ph.D., BCHN