Cognitive Pearls #010 Kislev 16, 5775 December 8, 14

Someone once said that there, ‘is no greater joy than the removal of doubt’. And of course that’s true, no? The other night, for example, my daughter took our dog, Sleepy, for a quick walk in our quiet neighborhood. Just three minutes. But during that short interval, in all honesty, I was a hysterical wreck. Only when the two of them returned home did I start relaxing.

But if we’re speaking about truth, then I must also acknowledge that certainty isn’t all that great either. Certainty can form itself into titanium restraints that trap us into cells of misery. Is there anyone more certain of his failing, unworthiness, and bleak future than someone who’s depressed? It is not in jest that there is no certainty like the certainty of the miserable.

As clinicians it is up to us to address such terrible certainty through generating life giving doubt into our clients’ narratives of despair. On the psycho-educational end, I often explain that certainty far from being rooted in logic, is in fact an expression rooted in the emotional regions of the brain. As a cognitivetherapist, I also use Socratic questioning to find the inconsistencies in the tales of catastrophe and personal failing. But more importantly than all of that, I endeavor to be an example to be one who celebrates the unknown and is willing to enjoy the questions of life, because I know that in those unknowns lay the potential for something even better.

And that’s so much better than certainty.