Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Why leaning into instead of turning away from uncertainty can change your life

Uncertainty and ambiguity.  Without question, for a vast majority of people, from where stems the source of many of our lives worries.  Will I get this job I so want?  What does my new budding friendship think of me?  Will this potentially big romantic relationship work out?  Where might I be living in 1 year, 5 years or 10?  Will I land that promotion or not?  I haven't heard from a close friend in ages, am I going to lose them?  Someone close to me is mad at me, will they be able to forgive or not?  The list of life quandaries and dilemmas goes on and on. 

Life is filled, daily, hourly, even minutely, with uncertainty.

This scares a lot of people.  For some, it even prompts them in turning away from things that, because of the uncertainty, scare them into remaining in situations that may no longer be good fits.  People who stay in relationships long past their expiration dates, that are no longer the right fit, staying because of memories, comfort and shared history.  Thus, missing out on other relationships that could be far better matches and with much greater potential for joy, fulfillment and growth.  People who stay in jobs that are easy, unchallenging, no longer very fulfilling, all because its "easy" and "too much work finding another one."  Likely leading to days passed in a fog of mundane, half asleep motion, and not much excitement or satisfaction.  People who turn away from experiences that excite them deeply, whether moving across the world, skydiving, taking a new class which intimidates them, making a career change mid life, attempting a feat they've never tried before but want to, all out of fear.  Worrying what the outcome might be.  What if it doesn't work out, what if it sucks, what if I make the wrong choice, etc.  So they remain complacent, in a rut, and they miss out.


Here is why learning to navigate and even step into, instead of away from uncertainty, can change your life in drastic ways:

1.  Uncertainty, believe it or not, is exciting.  This is at the very crux of what it means to be truly alive.  Ever being on edge of the never fully knowing.  And thus, wondering how it will all turn out.  If you already knew all the answers, or had already read the ending, where would the fun in that be?  Sure, it might be less stressful.  It would also be a lot boring, and pretty void of awe inspiring potential, surprise, and growth.

Since uncertainty is a given in virtually all of life (in your relationships, career trajectory, your friendships, familial relations, where you'll end up living and going, with everything really), you are left with two choices on how to approach this given uncertainty of life.  Either: let it terrify you, sending you often retreating in the other direction and away from things based on fear, or, learn to somehow emotionally embrace that life is uncertain, regardless, and thats part of the deal.

The not knowing?  Oh, what fun that can be.  Its what keeps us turning the pages of the book of our lives in suspense.  Its what keeps us up at night in excitement and anticipation.  Not knowing if we will reach what we so desire is what fuels us to keep pushing towards it.  Wanting to obtain that goal.  A huge part of the romance, mystery, wonder and elation of life lies in that very not knowing, and in uncovering it, the plethora of surprises and unexpected that come with it, all along the way.  Yes, its scary.  Its also amazing awesome.



2.  Uncertainty is often from where you grow the most.  Think about it, whats tougher?  Feeling scared of something and running?  Retreating?  Or, feeling the fear but swallowing hard and diving in anyway?  Turning towards instead of away from it.  For the majority of people, the second one is far scarier and thus, harder.  However, the second one can bring you face to face with far greater riches, worthwhile challenges, and opportunities than the first one.  Feeling scared and running may keep you "safe" but you sure end up loosing out.  Living a far less vivid life than what it could be otherwise.

An important note here.  Going for it does not mean that fear goes away.  And it also doesn't mean that our fear will never get the best of us again.  We are all human.  Sometimes we will still succumb to fear and retreat or run a bit.  But the key is in recognizing this, learning from it and not allowing our lives to be ruled by fear and instead, routinely challenging that fear in search of something greater.



3.  Accepting the truth that all of life is uncertain can allow you to treat it with far more bravery and appreciation than you might otherwise.  Knowing that life is in a constant state of flux, that its ever changing, always uncertain, and there is really nothing you can do about it.  This can prompt you, if you let it, to go for the gold.  To put in your all.  To really treasure it.  To treat whats special and good in your life with the attention and intentions you truly want, knowing that nothing is certain, that time is ticking, and that life is always shifting.




4.  Uncertainty means possibilities.  If something is totally figured out, that removes any sense of wonder or possibility from it.  Think about it.  If you already know the ending to the book, the thrill is removed from reading it.  If you already know what a certain situation or experience is like entirely, that takes away much of the possibility and complexity from it.  If a situation, or life in general, is completely certain, that voids it of possibility.  So really, uncertainty is ripe with potential, possibility and opportunities.  Relish and revel in that rhelm of potential instead of fearing it because you dont know the answer.  There are hundreds upon thousands of possible answers.  And how incredible and cool is that!?!




5.  To piggyback on #5, to assume you already know something for sure, whether it be what someone means by what they say, what a situation is, etc (unless you already truly know it fully because youve been there and experienced it in depth) is often to make a grave error.  When you make assumptions, you miss out on learning opportunities, on personal growth and on great challenges to better yourself and those around you.  You miss out on moving into a greater, wiser you.




Uncertainty, the unknown, ambiguity, the question marks of our life ahead, this is all very scary.  Unnerving.  It can be distressing, unsettling, anxiety producing.  However, there is absolutely nothing you can do to change the fact that life, relationships, jobs, all of it, is uncertain and unknown.  And since you cannot change this fact, what you do have a choice over is how you will choose to think about this given of life.  

Will you let all the question marks terrify you?  Send you running in the opposite direction?  Hiding away in fear of being hurt, in losing, in making a misstep, in experiencing loss?  Or, will you realize that all of this is par for the course in human life.  Along with things being uncertain and unknown, within each life, there unquestionably will be loss, hurt, and missteps.  However, there will also be immense beauty, wonder, magic, adventure, romance, triumphs and excitement as well.

Choose instead to look at the unknown as one of the most awesome aspects of life.  As though your life is the best of books, unfolding one page at a time as you are reading it in going along (as well as your being in the drivers seat of the story, to a large degree.  Life being a mash up, in my mind, of both things happening as they are meant to in combination with our choices).  With no idea of what's to come and waiting, as well as watching, with bated breath and suspense for all the beauty that's to actualize.








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