Mind Blown: Grieving Knowledge
If the beliefs we have about ourselves make up our identity are not connected to truth. It means that we could be 1. incorrect about our identity but also that, 2. our identities (self-perception) can shift with knowledge alone.This shift in identity from wise to ignorant can be significant enough to require reconciliation. It’s worth exploring the possibility that coming into awareness of significant information, actually requires grieving. But first terms…
There are several definitions of grief but we will begin with the working definition that we use in our workshop Grief Practice. Grief is the process of realizing that what we hoped or believed to be real is no longer a part of our reality. This comes when we experience the loss of a loved one but it also happens at the end of a relationship, or other, smaller experiences of loss (mundane grief).
Often times we think of grief as a product of things not going the way we planned in a negative way. However, this feeling can from positive changes as well, like empty-nest syndrome, or homesickness. In addition to this, we can also experience grief as we learn more about the world and ourselves. The shock of new information can also spin us into grief, as we work to fit the new information into our conceptions about the world. This can happen when a romantic partner says they have been having an affair or even if humanity were to lean we are not the lone sentient life form in space. Similarly, knowledge can disrupt our sense of identity, as in if we were to find out that we are adopted. While it might answer many questions for some, it is just as likely to give rise to much more in others.
When we acquire significantly novel information in can disrupt our understanding of other things. The process of us rebuilding new constructs can be painful and cause anxiety. In order to move through this process, we must be willing to understand that is indeed natural, and cannot be expedited, but it can be understood. The way we have come to remember events in our lives is cumulative and when fundamental pillars of belief are jolted it can be destabilizing.
Our familiarity with the process of grieving can make it a more graceful transition but we can not avoid it. The same as there are certain acts that can not be undone. What has been seen can not be unseen. Instead, we must reconcile, accept, and learn to live with a new understanding, in a new way, as new people.