• David Unger, PhD

Possibility, Probability and Reality


It’s raining today as I write this. In fact it has been raining for some time. That is unusual because I live in Southern California where we have been challenged by a drought. The rain is welcome, needed and valued. And because we are not used to it, our streets flood, hills slide and motorists crash.


The rain caught a lot of us by surprise because the weather forecasters told us there was going to be less rain than average this year. Of course, we should have known better because last year they predicted heavy rains. That is the thing about predictions - they don’t always come true.


In fact, this has been a hard run for predictors. Most of the pollsters got it wrong on the election. I think most people thought Hillary was going to win the election and part of the aftermath is having to deal with thinking something was going to happen that didn’t. Most people didn’t even think the election was going to be close. When people realized that something that was not a possibility but a probability had not come to pass it threw off a lot people's relationship with reality.


People want to believe that someone has an answer. Well, not an answer. The answer. We would like someone to be able to tell us the best/right/optimum thing to do and then have it done. We want to trust that other people can govern us, tell us whether we need an umbrella and make the world a better place.


Our trust in the media, the government and each other is not getting any better. While there is some value in not fully trusting others, there is a higher upside that comes with greater trust. The more your trust your loved ones and share your truths with them usually the more satisfied people are with their relationships. If we want to make the world a better place, we need to focus on building relationships and building trust. While I would like us all to be able to trust the goodwill of others, I know some people/media and weather forecasters are more trustworthy than others.


In the therapy world we have come to learn that if you want to change something you need to begin by accepting things the way they are. You don’t have to like them. But you need to acknowledge the truth of how things feel/think/are for you. You can build trust from the bottom up by sharing your truth in respectful thoughtful ways. If we want greater trust in the government and its officials we need to talk with them as we would talk to those close to us.


I heard a great idea yesterday from a close friend who had made a call to Paul Ryan’s office to talk about an issue that was important to her. Her view and his view are very different. But, she believed that if he heard enough views that were different than his own,and if he could see the merit and value in the other’s belief, there was a chance he might ever so slightly change his stance. Instead of being discouraged, she was encouraged to speak up for her beliefs and trust that her voice would be heard.


I have a garden with a lot of weeds. I pull some up and some get by me. It is a yearly battle. I know I will eventually lose the war to the weeds, but every year I make some inroads. Yeah, the probability of making much difference in how those who govern react to your voice is ever so slight. It even is hard to influence legislation when you talk to a member of Congress who holds your own beliefs. How they actually write bills and how they are adjudicated are matters we have little real influence upon. But we have no possibility if we don’t speak out in ways that allow and encourage others with different views to be open to listening and talking in respectful thoughtful and caring ways. Yeah, the possibility of that is slim, but without effort there will be no change. The weeds may win out in the garden but I can make small inroads here and there that matter to me.


We may not really be able to know how exactly mother nature is going to affect us.

We may not really be able to trust others to take good care of us, our country, our world, our universe.

We may not really be able to always turn possibility into probability into reality.

But we can put our trust in ourselves.

We can trust that we will do our best to make the world as good a place as it can be for all of us.

#Possibility #Probability #Reality

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