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August 2016




Do You Need Certainty?

"No great deed is done by falterers who ask for certainty.”

… George Eliot (1819 - 1880) English novelist

SCARFThis month we continue our series of five articles on what we term our 'core concerns'. These core concerns speak to what is centrally important to us and we have a basic need to take care of them. We move away from a perceived threat to these concerns or move towards opportunities that we assess may enhance them. These core concerns also underpin many of our stronger emotional responses and the associated habitual actions these emotions predispose.

Last edition we looked at the role of status. This time we will focus on our concern for certainty.

Let us start with a simple statement. The future for any human being is inherently uncertain except for the single fact that we will die. No matter how much we might like to believe otherwise, uncertainty is an ever present feature of the future.

Throughout history, humankind has been somewhat obsessed with challenging the notion of uncertainty. We have used the stars, tea leaves and crystal balls in attempt to see the future. One of the predicates of the scientific method is that through its use we can predict with certainty what will happen and when. However, even in the domain of science, where future events can be predicted with greater probability there is not complete certainty because there will always be risk factors that may or may not be anticipated.

There are two stances that we can take in the face of our uncertain future. We can rail against it and crave certainty or we can embrace it. These two stances lead us down very different paths in the way in which we experience life.

When we crave certainty, we seek control. We want to know that when we do X we will get Y. We plan, we keep watching to make sure things are going as we want. For those of you have been long term readers, you may remember the article on the 'control myth'. This is the idea that we can control others and it is a very appealing idea to those who want certainty. The more we want certainty, the more we push for control over as much as possible.

The challenge is that our circle of control is relatively small in relation to the concerns over which we might like to have control. Despite all the effort that people may put into seeking to create certainty, it is elusive. This tends to lead people into a mood of anxiety where they often feel the worst may happen when things do not go as expected.

Central to our ability to successfully embrace an uncertain future is the linguistic action of making an assessment. Well grounded assessments look to a balanced view of our knowledge of the past to seek to guide us into the future. The key distinction here can be seen in the difference between 'controlling the future' and 'guiding ourselves through the future'. By accepting the uncertainty of the future, we can step into it in the expectation that the unknown provides opportunity and threat. We can be open to the possibility that we may need to deal with the unexpected and be able to deal with it.

Clearly it is important to feel that we will be able to deal with an uncertain future as to do otherwise sends us back to anxiety. The keys to the core concern of certainty are to build trust in ourselves and others and to expect the unexpected.

Next edition, we will focus on the core concern of autonomy. Until then, embrace the future and what it might bring.


Mind Health Matters

Some thoughts from Jacqui Chaplin

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

... Elon Musk (b. 1971) US Businessman

Ain’t nobody go time for that…

Welcome to the fifth part of a six part exploration of some of the things that may cause an empathy deficit in people when it comes to dealing with individuals living with mental illness. The opening blog post posed a question about why there might be a mind health empathy deficit. In the first of six articles we looked at the link between preconceived values and beliefs. Then we took a look at the impact of being in denial about one’s own or a loved one’s mental illness. Next up, we looked at how a lack of awareness and education about mental illness can create an empathy deficit, as well as clarifying the causes of mental illness. And last month we took a look at how one’s personal discomfort might preclude an ability to be empathetic to those living with mental illness.

This month we take a look at how a busy life, that’s filled with personal, family and employment challenges can put those with mental illness low on the list of priorities.

You may have seen a viral video a few years back… an American woman, by the name of Sweet Brown, was being interviewed about a fire in her apartment block. And in the interview a news channel did with her she coined the phrase “ain’t nobody got time for that!” It became quite the internet meme.

And, in the ever increasing speed fuelled race that can be our lives, many of us might feel like we “don’t got no time for that!” That might be time for yourself. That might be time for friends. That might be time to breathe. That might be time to volunteer. And that might be having no time or head space to be concerned or learn more about mental health issues or challenges.

There is no right or wrong here. I don’t feel like I have time to do many of the things I would like to do… the reasons for that could be the source of another whole series of blog posts! But I digress…

In thinking about the causes behind the empathy deficit for people living with mental illness, the busy-ness of life, our own concerns and sometimes just trying to make it through the day without flipping out take priority. It just so happens that for me, the empathy deficit with respect to mental illness is something I note. I also know that there are so many areas in life that can just feel too hard, too large, too unsolvable for one individual.

So, my invitation to you this month is to breathe. Cut yourself some slack. Know that you can’t attend to everything, all the time. And when an opportunity does arise that you have some moments in your day that you can listen to someone who is challenged by life, mental illness or not, that you can be a compassionate and empathetic listener.

And may there be someone in your world ready, willing and able to do that for you if needed.

Next month: Mental Illness and Resilience in a Different Time

…how a being born in a generation that did not talk about mental illness or ‘private matters’ learnt to be a whole different sort of resilient in a whole different time.

Why? Because your mind health matters.

For crisis support in Australia call Lifeline 24 hours a day 7 days a week on 13 11 14. In Australia, in case of an emergency, call 000. 


'But I Feel Good' Radio Show

Remember to tune in to ‘But I Feel Good’ ...talking pink elephants and black dogs BIFGbroadcasting in Melbourne's inner east on 94.1fm 3WBC, on your fav smart phone app or streaming live at www.3wbc.org.au every Monday 12-1pm AET.

The ‘But I Feel Good’ Content Only episodes are available for your perusal and listening pleasure at http://jacquichaplin.com/BIFGarchive.

‘But I Feel Good’ is still heard via syndication in central Victoria on 94.9 MAINfm Mondays 1-2pm AET.

I’d love to hear your ideas for mind health topics you’d like to hear about and any mind health resources you’ve found helpful. Email me at butifeelgood@jacquichaplin.com. Thanks to those of you who have done so already.

If you’d like me to speak about mind health matters and resilience at your conference or to your organisation please contact me at jacqui@jacquichaplin.com or +61 (0)412 741 531

We invite you to read Jacqui's blog here

More on Mind Health Matters next month!

“There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.”

... Robert Burns (1759-1796) Scottish poet

The Monthly Diversion

This month some one-liners!

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.

How do you get a sweet 80-year-old lady to say the F word? Get another sweet little 80-year-old lady to yell "BINGO"!

As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools.

What did one ocean say to the other ocean? Nothing, they just waved.

A day without sunshine is like, night.

Born free, taxed to death.

For Sale: Parachute. Only used once, never opened.

A bank is a place that will lend you money, if you can prove that you don’t need it.

What is faster hot or cold? Hot, because you can catch a cold.

What’s the difference between a new husband and a new dog? After a year, the dog is still excited to see you.

Love may be blind, but marriage is a real eye-opener.

Why did the scientist install a knocker on his door? He wanted to win the No-bell prize!

When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane.

"Progress is man's ability to complicate simplicity."

... Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002) Norwegian Explorer

Join Us Online

LinkedInDo you want to explore some of these ideas in more depth? Then, we invite you to join our LinkedIn Group and share any insights you may have. As others have done, we also invite to offer your own thoughts and conversations if they relate to the ontological approach. You can find us on LinkedIn by clicking here.

Want to Read More?

Since the formation of Talking About in 2005, we have published our e-zine every month. Before that, Chris wrote regular newsletters and e-zines with Gaia Consulting Group dating back to 1995. If you would like to explore more of Chris' ideas then you can access our e-zine archive and view any newsletter written since 2005 by clicking here or to look at all the articles Chris has written over the years simply click here.


Chris has also written some in-depth essays on a number of topics related to the ontological work. If you would like to explore any of these essays then please click on the relevant image below.


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