The Not-Knowing



Do you know the feeling of being stuck in a rut? It feels like something needs to shift but we just can’t work out what or how.


The ability to wait can be difficult. To live with things when they feel uncomfortable or when life is not going according to plan can be very unsettling and anxiety provoking. Sometimes we can feel a strong frustration or sometimes it is more subtle and we have a feeling that something isn’t right but we just can’t put our finger on it.


In psychoanalytic terms, this period of instability and indecision is called “the not-knowing stance”. When we are in “the not-knowing” we yearn for an answer, for something to shift so that we can move on to whatever is next.


There are many ways to choose to be in this not-knowing stance. Here are a few:

We can

  • continue as we are and wait for fate to step in
  • compare ourselves to others who seem far more sorted than us
  • make a decision immediately which will end this phase and take us into the next
  • feel frustrated and bitter and concentrate on the negativity of our situation


However, it is most important to recognise the situation we are in and remain open minded.


Once we are aware of something we are able to look at it. The aim in psychoanalytic work is to take time to be curious, think about and reflect on this challenging phase we are in and what may be causing it. This reflection can take place in creativity, thoughts, dreams or discussion.


If we are able to stick with being in this not-knowing state we can benefit from:

  • becoming more comfortable with ambiguity
  • trusting our intuition
  • being open to new ideas and outcomes


Knowing that we are in a difficult place allows us to make the most of it. As John Lennon said:

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”


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