Nothing is more confusing than combining these two terms as if they were one. We are all guilty of this at times. Where we say that something is certain because “we are thinking clearly”. When those who truly do think clearly would never say that something in the future is absolutely certain.
Certainty can either be comforting or alarming. It gives us a false sense of control over the events in our world. We feel good when we believe we are certain. “This will happen” gets repeated too many times. Our egos like to declare certainty to make us feel smart, in touch, and on top of things.
We defend our certainty “because we know”, or “Facebook said”, “he or she said” or “that is the only possible reasonable conclusion that anyone can come to”. It is clouded by our beliefs, our biases, and most importantly the way we see the world. A popular opinion can be dangerously used as being certain. (Based on the web definition of certainty which includes: “inevitability or the quality of being established as true”.)
Clarity is different, less well understood, and more infrequently sought after. It pushes aside all of the imperfections of certainty to understand multiple sides, points of view, and possibilities. With clarity, there are only probabilities of outcomes. No one outcome is ever totally certain. Where different points of view are not necessarily right or wrong but in digging deeper we sometimes find that each makes some credible points, when stitched together could lead us to a more complete understanding of what we now face resulting in greater clarity.
In seeking clarity, there is an admission that multiple paths or ways of thinking can lead to outcomes. Some may be better than others. Given our situation, some may or may not be possible. Clarity dances with possibility whereas certainty never listens to anything different than its own point of view.
Learning can occur when seeking clarity. Sometimes causing us to pause, reassess, and even modify or change what we believed to be true. There is an intellectual humility inherent in seeking clarity. Certainty when confronted feels too small-minded and narrow-focused. Pushing others away from sharing ideas, continuing conversations, or even getting involved in a group setting.
Clarity requires the skills of judgment and willingness to learn new things with a belief in possibility. Certainty, never asks for much while in return many give it their utmost loyalty as they cling to their beliefs. Albeit certainty can lead many to greater uncertainty, confusion, and disappointment. Only to be repeated again without reflection.
Seeking clarity should proceed all else when situations arise. Not that we can avoid all mistakes in our judgment. But opening us up to understand that multiple outcomes are always possible. It just depends on how you get there and whether or not you are willing to put in the effort to learn what you don’t know before you step further.