Friday, 23 May 2014

Embracing Uncertainty

Uncertainty Unknown Path Road Fog

Life is one big uncertainty. No-one can go through life without experiencing uncertainty.

From life changes like jobs ending, to people dying, to relationships changing, to the general uncertainty of not knowing what direction to take in life, being human comes with the experience of uncertainty.

Now the difference between those who embrace it and those that don't, shows in the coping mechanisms of those who are unwilling to embrace uncertainty.

  • Trying to create security through life insurance, home insurance, health insurance etc..Insurance can reduce the impact of change, but it doesn't provide security, or stop change happening.
  • Planning life ahead of time in minute detail, not allowing any space for surprises.
  • Rehearsing what to say to someone ahead of time.
  • Not being willing to stop and take stock of what they are doing and why.
  • Intensely pursuing a career path to the detriment of other areas of life (for example focusing solely on a career and leaving no room for relationships, relaxation, personal growth).
  • Always looking to the end result, to a goal, to the next door opening, and not to facing 'what is' here right now.
  • Substance abuse, addiction, sex, food. 
  • Living for the future (for Friday when Monday comes, for summer holidays during the winter months).

These are all ways to avoid embracing uncertainty, but even with all this happening life is always going to be uncertain.

Even if you have a career and know your direction, life can change at any moment. You could get sick and be unable to pursue your career; you may be made redundant, lose all your money, your partner may leave you, anything could happen. And if you use substances to quell the fear, you will in the long term simply need more and more to feed the addiction.

Fear Of The Unknown

Man Beach Sunset Thinking

If you fear uncertainty, begin to accept that you are not alone, but that you can find new ways to embrace it more fully and consciously.

The only thing that is constant is change. And who you really are always remains the same, that is where peace, joy and genuine happiness lie.

There is only one thing that makes uncertainty more an adventure than an experience of suffering and that is living more in the present, being more mindful.

Society is set up to encourage us to dream forward, but instead you can see the illusion in that and awaken from the dream of control, awaken from the dream of future or past and awaken from the dream of who you think you are, and begin to see that you are far more than the story you have been telling yourself all this time - until now.

Dramatic Events

Now, admittedly life can sometimes take dramatic twists and turns. A loved one passing suddenly, a major health issue, being made homeless, a relationship suddenly ending. I won't trivialise these traumatic events, but I will say they can happen to anyone. So to embrace uncertainty while life may be difficult, but not life threatening, will set you up for a more graceful experience of any change that takes place.

You will still re-act if major life events happen. This is an instinctual 'fight or flight' response to danger be it physical or emotional feelings of danger. And all you can do in those deeply uncertain experiences is to fully feel what is arising, to accept that you may be having a meltdown and to not beat yourself up for your real genuine human experience.

How To Embrace Uncertainty
  • Become the watcher. Whenever you observe your thoughts to be going off into the future or past bring yourself back to the present. Do this through focusing on where the feeling is in your body, taking time out through focusing on your breath. If you are doing an activity bring yourself back to the physical experience of it (cleaning, washing, walking, drinking). Try these meditations to experience mindfulness if you are new to this.
  • Simplify your life. Reduce distractions right down. No more surfing the net to avoid being here now. Yes use it as a tool but not to avoid the present.
  • Instead of taking hundreds of photos of yourself, of what you are doing, eating, updating Facebook statuses, sharing on Instagram... reduce this right down. Yes, if you enjoy the visual take some photos, but if you are travelling or out somewhere take in the scenery, take in the people. The virtual world can wait for another time.
  • Watch less Television - enjoy more time in nature.
  • If you are a social butterfly and surrounded by people most of the time, try reducing your social calendar down so that you can experience more alone time. When we are alone we really discover who we are and it gives us time to heal and practice self-compassion.
This is all about personal growth. We can use periods of uncertainty to grow and evolve as a person, or we can fear it and avoid it and remain in the feeling of a 'stuck', frustrated or unfulfilled world or life.

It's all about personal choice.

What are you choosing right now?

Where are you? Fearing the future or embracing the now?


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1) Photo credit: Ahmed Rabea via photopin cc

2) Photo credit: WanderingtheWorld (www.ChrisFord.com) via photopin cc

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