Being with “Uncertainty”

When it comes to maximizing one’s “inner peace quotient,” it’s essential to learn how to “be with” those aspects of life which are most challenging.

We must learn to “be with” disappointing others, being judged, imperfection, chaos, another rejecting us, a lengthy to-do list, unmet goals, unconsciousness, weakness, time, mistakes, suffering and UNCERTAINTY.

Most human beings, myself included, LOVE to be “in control.” Perhaps this gives us a sense of security in this ever dynamic and changing world. But, with all the UNCERTAINTY that exists, it makes it one of the most challenging aspects of life to “be with.”

Uncertainty can range from mildly annoying to all consuming and stress-inducing. Of course, the MORE stress, frustration and inner turmoil you bring to yourself, the more sabotaging it is (i.e. aging us, creating disease in our bodies, making us grumpy, etc).

Sometimes uncertainty comes with ONE potential happy ending, and ONE “not so good” ending.

Here are some examples:

* Maybe your savings is dwindling and you need to attract new business to effectively launch or stay in business. Can you do this before beginning to go into debt?

* Maybe you had a serious disagreement with a friend or spouse, and they’ve gone “silent” on you. Will they reconcile with you or was that the “final straw” and is your relationship ruined forever?

* Maybe you have a health condition requiring a hard-to-come-by medicine. If you get the medicine on time, you can “function” well. Without the medication, you become very sick.

Sometimes you get to choose between a “NOT so GOOD CHOICE” and another “NOT so GOOD CHOICE.” This is my least favorite kind of uncertainty.

* Maybe you own multiple rental properties and are upside down with the mortgage crisis. You can continue to make the draining payments on properties which are likely NOT to go up anytime soon. Or you can file bankruptcy or allow one or more houses to foreclose and suffer the impact on your credit.

* Maybe you’ve been trying to get pregnant, resorting to IVF treatments. If you proceed with the next round, it may mean skipping your favorite niece’s graduation, with no guarantees the procedure will work. You could skip the treatment, knowing that may have been “the one.” Or take the treatment, have it fail, and feel guilty for missing a once-in-a-lifetime event. (Of course, it could also work out!)

* Maybe you’ve recently been diagnosed with a serious illness like cancer and have to choose between a variety of treatments, each with their own serious risks. Or do you not do any treatment and risk your life? Not a position I’d like to be in.

You get the idea. All of these examples are drawn from real-life situations from friends, family and clients.

Regardless of how big or small YOUR uncertainty is, all UNCERTAINTIES have TWO things in common:

1. You don’t know IF, in the end, “You’ll be OK.” Can you handle more debt? Can you handle going bankrupt or foreclosing on a home? Can you handle being really sick for awhile (or watching a loved one go through the process)? Can you handle disappointing a family member? Can you handle losing everything?

I know these aren’t fun questions. But, let me remind you of an important truth.

“So far in life…you’ve HANDLED everything that has come your way.”

Maybe it wasn’t with perfect grace. But, you handled it. You’re here now, reading this article. I personally like to bet on the odds. If you’ve handled things before… however challenging or difficult or embarrassing or painful, you’ll be able to again. Somehow. Some way. Right up to the day you leave the planet.

I don’t say this lightly.

I have a friend now who is diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease. Not a curable disease today. Yet, I’m so inspired by how she dances with the “uncertainty” of her disease. She takes things ONE day at a time, and recognizes she IS handling it. She is OK, right now. Even if her speech is slurring or her body twitches. And, she’s living life more fully than many people I know.

For most of us, this is an extreme reality you aren’t forced to accept. Though in the moment, ANY uncertainty becomes as giant as you let it.

As you sit with the UNCERTAINTIES in your life, can you find the place inside of you that is OK, right now?

I know, I know. I forget to acknowledge this truth when I’m struggling with UNCERTAINTY. But, all it takes it one moment to remember.

2. You don’t know how the story will end.Will it be the HAPPY ending – the one you prefer? Will you be forced to choose between two “not so great choices?” Will the ending be so horrible or humbling, you’ll have to check yourself into an insane asylum?

What’s interesting is, those facing a life-threatening disease seem to come to grips quicker and faster with the UNCERTAINTY of the end, than those of us in a financial crisis or worrying about flubbing up an important speech or making a tough decision.

Seven Pounds

Last night, my husband and I watched the movie “Seven Pounds” starring Will Smith. If you haven’t seen it yet, I HIGHLY recommend it. It’s thought-provoking, with an inspiring message. It STILL has me reflecting.

It’s also one of those movies where all the pieces of the story don’t come together until the end of the movie. That means, as a viewer, you have to “be with” the UNCERTAINTY. You may be confused at some of the dialog between characters. You may wonder if you’re going to end up liking or hating this movie in the end. You may feel resentful that you’re having to pay close attention to the movie in order to TRY to make some sense of it all.

I suppose watching “Seven Pounds,” or a movie like this, could be frustrating for some people. But, I imagine most people assume “all the pieces” WILL come together AND KNOW they will be OK in the end. Afterall, it is simply a movie.

In “Seven Pounds,” all the pieces DO come together in a magical and profoundly meaningful way (as MOST movies do). It all makes sense. And, while Will Smith’s character is faced with his own uncertainties, he ultimately makes a choice to support what he sees as a “higher good.”

Whether you like or dislike the exact ending of this movie — or any movie — doesn’t really matter. However emotionally engaged you were (fearful, tears, tension, excitement), the ending happens AND you come back to the reality of “you’re OK.” (I doubt most people acknowledge this, unless it was a horror movie. I have to watch a “feel-good” movie if the movie was TOO startling for my nervous system).

As the movie “Seven Pounds” ended, I thought, “If only we could be with our own uncertainties as we watch most movies.”

Maybe a great tips list for being with UNCERTAINTY.

  • Pay full attention.
  • Take it one moment at a time.
  • Trust all the pieces will come together.
  • Know it all will eventually make sense.
  • Don’t get caught up in knowing or not knowing the ending. (There may be many twists and turns).
  • Don’t resist the uncertainties in the moment (at least not TOO much or you won’t be able to watch/experience your movie/life).
  • Know that you’ll be OK at the end of the movie (as you are in virtually EVERY moment of the day and night).
  • Make choices in support of the HIGHER good.

Could it really be that simple? Maybe so.

How do you dance with UNCERTAINTY in your life?

One method is to RESIST uncertainty – and suffer. It’s like repeatedly banging your head against a wall. More painful than productive. Maybe you stop eating or overeat, spend all your time sleeping or deprive yourself of sleep. Maybe you beat yourself up for not being able to decide between the two choices. Maybe you keep focusing on the end result you would prefer the least. (Law of Attraction recommends against this). Maybe you just allow the “uncertainty” to make you feel bad.

Alternatively, you can recognize, “You are okay in this moment,” even WITH the uncertainties all around you.

And, like watching a movie brimming with uncertainties, you can apply each of the simply viewing tips above. Stay present and make choices in support of the higher good. Just like Will Smith at the end of the movie, you’ll know EXACTLY what to do at the perfect moment.

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