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Certainty is a comfortable feeling, but when it becomes an automatic response it is risky, and threatening to harmony. Because we are generally uncomfortable with doubt and ambiguity, it can become a reflex to reduce uncertainty by claiming to know something even when we don’t.

This shows up most clearly when we work or live with someone who is ‘always right’. In extreme cases this sets up a tension in the relationship that becomes an obstruction to mutual respect and understanding.

We are all capable of slipping into a mode where we express certainty about things we are not actually sure of. A subtle and unconscious drift that lures us into a habit of ‘knowing’, while simultaneously driving others away from complicity with us.

The antidote to this is to practice a simple phrase regularly and often. “I don’t know” has a liberating effect which is far greater than it’s simplicity suggests.

 

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