Be confused

Humans like predictability. In fact, we are addicted to it. Predictability means control, and control means safety. From an evolutionary standpoint this is not surprising: unexpected situations mean danger more often than they mean opportunity. So over the course of evolution we gradually got better at predicting what can go wrong: we identified the causes of chaos in our environment and found ways to avoid them, restrict their effects or even modify the environment to get rid of them altogether.

This is why when we meet something not yet familiar, something that doesn't fit the pattern, something that we can't predict the behavior of - we are confused.

Confusion is a powerful mix of fear and curiosity. Like our fellow animals we are, most of the time, sort of curiously afraid. Curiosity is in the mix together with fear, because no species can survive in a changing environment by always doing exactly what they did before. Evolution rewards and even requires a certain amount of risk-taking.

This is why, when faced with something that you don't know what to expect from, you are confused, or curiously afraid.

From here you have a few ways to go: 1. You can run away and try to forget about it as fast as you can. That's always a fair choice, unless the unique thing keeps hunting you down, as it often does. 2. You can ignore the uniqueness of the experience you are having and pigeonhole it into one of the groups of previously known things. You will thus have a set of false expectations and that in itself may or may not become a problem. 3. You can get angry. If the unkown thing brings discomfort or fear - you can try to scare it away, to let it know that if it doesn't stop messing up with your worldview it may be in trouble. 4. Or you can choose to overcome fear, bypass anger and focus on curiosity. You can try and figure it out. You can form a new model, test it against reality, fail and try again. You can learn. You can allow the unknown and the unexpected to enrich your worldview.

Embrace confusion. All the tensions and possibilities of the world are in it. Enjoy the taste of not knowing.

If you are not confused, suprised or puzzled at least a few times a day, then you are probably missing out on a lot of what Universe has to offer.

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  • Temple Grandin