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Uncertainty: (Our Second Basic Human Need)

Sep 01, 2020 06:16PM ● By Joan Summers

We all have a basic need for certainty in our lives. It provides us with comfort and the ability to avoid pain and gain pleasure. Certainty is connected to our need to be safe and supported. It is the foundation of a calm state and a peaceful existence. Certainty is our first Basic Human Need.

Uncertainty is the second of our Basic Human Needs. It provides us with variety. Life would be very boring without it. There wouldn’t be a surprise birthday party or a chance, first time romantic meeting; no ultrasound to know if it’s a girl or a boy; no unexpected job offer or running into a long-lost friend. Each of us has a threshold for the amount of uncertainty we are comfortable with. Our history, temperament and current support systems are key in understanding the level of uncertainty that is emotionally and physically healthy for us. We all need to feel that we have some control over what happens next. The good news is that we do.

Coronavirus and physical distancing have created shared feelings of isolation and frustration, triggering something within each of us. It could be a deep secret, a regret or a buried trauma. Whatever we have been avoiding for a long time is now present and asking to be resolved. What do we fear the most? It is time to dig in and release the fear and the belief systems that no longer serve us. We have an opportunity to make extraordinary changes, learn new skills and release the patterns of the past. 

The uncertainty of not knowing what happens next is part of our current experience. For most people the “not knowing” is where they are stuck, in limbo and asking, “How much more can we take?” Who or what are we directing that question to? Who or what is answering? Are we listening? Our uncertainty is making us squirm. If we can hold still and be very present with this uncomfortable, even painful experience, the epiphany will come. Our subconscious knows exactly what we need to do next. 

We have all heard about being present. It is a healing experience. It allows us to live in the here and now instead of worrying about the past or future. We get to return to a calm brain state. Some of us live in a perpetual hyper-vigilant brain state that can quickly switch to panic, producing a fight, flight or freeze reaction. This reaction is experienced as anxiety and PTSD. Presence allows something that has been pushed down, in the act of self-preservation, to surface. Presence will also give answers to the why and the how of healing it. Once this has been experienced, a sense of certainty returns. 

The balance between certainty and uncertainty is essential before attaining the next four, higher Basic Human Needs. Do we have significance? Do others need us? Do we matter? How are we unique, and what do we value? Our self-esteem and confidence are actualized here. Significance is the third Basic Human Need. The fourth is Connection. We need to feel we belong and can love and be loved. The ways we connect are evolving daily. Fifth is our own personal growth, which brings us back to learning new skills and releasing old patterns. In order to make improvements we must know our truth. Are we ready for that journey? Last and certainly not least is the sixth Basic Human Need. It is the contribution we make in our world, what we are passionate about and fulfilling our authentic purpose, our legacy. 

In a time of great uncertainty, we can still choose our path and feel supported on it. With grace, courage and compassion we can move forward. Most of us are unaware of our own power and ability to release fear. We are being offered an opportunity to move out of the darkness and bring light to the world. 

Joan Summers, owner of Step Into Joy Healing Arts, is a Gestalt Life Coach and Intuitive Reiki Master specializing in the Equine Gestalt Coaching Method. For more information, call 267-272-9343, email [email protected] or visit


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