Uncertainty – Friend or Foe?

For many of us, life is about a search for clarity. We ask questions of ourselves and others, but it is rare that answers are immediately found. The resultant uncertainty is a constant companion for most of us in our daily lives, and we have a choice to ignore it or embrace it. In my view, while it might not feel great, exploring our uncertainties is exactly what the doctor ordered to give birth to true clarity in our lives.

 

Absolute clarity feels amazing, but you often have to wade through a swamp of confusion and doubt to get there. Instead of panicking and walking away, it is often worth making your peace with the situation so that you gain a better understanding of what lies beneath. There have been people in my life who I’ve met and didn’t immediately take to for some reason or other, and I know very well that I have had the same effect on others on occasion. You don’t quite know where these relationships are going, but if you stick with tough situations and difficult relationships, there is always more to the story that you can learn.  Herein lies the opportunity for growth and many of my most rewarding paths in life have traveled through uncertainty.

 

When you know that uncertainty can lead to wonderful places, you tend to be that much more curious and open-minded about opportunities. You meet the thought of “this is impossible!” with the question “why?” Adopting this mindful approach gives you the chance to objectively reflect on different ways of doing things, and your life will be instantly richer. In my opinion, slow and mindful change allows us to be true to (and learn more about) ourselves.

 

Here is what I try to remember when I am feeling unsure about something:

 

Uncertainty means that you’ve not yet defined what you truly want or need. It can make you feel vulnerable and therefore uncomfortable. But that is okay.

 

It is okay, because there is a process behind the madness, to filter the unwanted from the wanted, the real from the fake and the good from the bad. If you are honest with yourself and take the time to understand if it resonates with you, it can be a regular cathartic experience. Exploring uncertainties helps you to define your path and cleanse your life.

 

Being unsure means that I have work to do. If I care enough about the subject and dedicate my energies to getting to the bottom of things (from a place of “I don’t know the answer” humility), then there is always so much more to learn, and personal growth is assured. You can’t dig deep into everything, so there is always a judgment call, but if you listen to yourself, you will know where you should spend your energies.

 

You might walk away from something, but that doesn’t have to be forever. If situations continue to reappear, it seems to me that life is sending you a sign that you should be paying them a bit more attention. If certain uncertainties resurface, maybe you’ll get another chance to address them. The key is paying attention to your life, to the twists and turns that shape us, and to see if there is a common thread of helpful or harmful behavior. Breakthroughs come when you realize how you would do things better next time. Next time often comes sooner rather than later if you keep an eye out for it.

 

Lastly, time heals all wounds and makes it possible to revisit uncomfortable past experiences. Life is a journey, and we can’t always get things right first time. Forgiveness to ourselves and to others and to the situation, can be a huge catalyst to opening up our hearts and minds to approach a confusing, maybe even hurtful situation and try to make something from it.

 

Much of this comes down to one of my favorite Buddhist quotes: “Do you want to know my secret? I don’t mind what happens.” While it might take a true Yogi to live that statement to the fullest, it is possible to adopt this attitude with the smaller things in life. “Not minding what happens” and being more open to uncertainty in a work context makes me a better coworker, client, vendor, and partner. It helps to soften things, including my harder edges. I don’t mean that I am a pushover, far from it, but it helps me to remain open to every possibility that life brings my way, no matter how shrouded in confusion that might seem.

 

To me, this allows me to become a highly individualized and focused being with clarity of thought and purpose. I would wish that for everyone as there is little else more satisfying.

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