The Uncertainty Mindset 2019-2020

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#8: voluntary uncertainty

Vaughn Tan4th January 2021 at 4:48pm

This issue is about how, above a certain threshold, most people seem to lose the ability to perceive and manage uncertainty—in fact, they often mistake it for risk. This misjudgment may be because people are gripped by uncertainty fatigue. They are exposed to too much uncertainty, and it overwhelms because they are insufficiently practiced at recognizing and dealing with it.

But: Some people are able to perceive uncertainty and they invest in preparations for it that seem inefficient at the time because there's no way to know in advance whether those preparations will end up entirely useless or incredibly useful. This is the right approach.

These people are able to act appropriately in uncertain situations because they've trained themselves to do so. To achieve this state, it helps to start with a small and comparatively innocuous instance of uncertainty before moving into the big leagues, by voluntarily choosing to put yourself in situations where you don't know what will happen or how you should respond.

Voluntary uncertainty is a form of low-level desperation by design, which works like a fitness regimen for developing the cognitive and emotional ability to deal with both involuntary and voluntary uncertainty.

At a time of undeniably uncertain futures, this kind of self-therapy is increasingly essential for survival and flourishing.

Be warned that there are no capital letters at all in this issue. You can find it here: #8: voluntary uncertainty