Thinking back to conversations regarding uncertainty, I don’t recall, in this moment, someone expressing delight and enthusiasm about it. Mostly, we respond to uncertainty with dread, and it’s not hard to understand why we feel that way. Fear of the unknown is such a common theme, it would seem (metaphorically) like a nasty cold that has spread worldwide.
The intention of this post is to turn that fear around because, when we take a moment, we can see that everything is uncertain. Anything can come and go in an instant. People, policies, homes, jobs, friendships, and even our feelings. We fall in love, we fall out of love. We admire someone, and then we don’t. It happens. Life happens with its endless twists of uncertainty. And still, we’re here. We’ve survived the perpetual stream of uncertainty, and wouldn't it be grand to not just survive, but to love the hell out of life? Literally, take out the anguish we typically feel with uncertainty.
Uncertainty is part of every moment, yet, we ignore this and only acknowledge it in dramatic moments such as losing a job, losing our health, or losing a loved-one. In the face of great change, the feeling of uncertainty amplifies, and how we relate to it depends on our relationship with ourselves. If we are insecure, prone to worry, or highly skeptical, uncertainty feels upsetting. If you whole-heartedly trust the flow of life, big changes and small, uncertainty is likely to feel exhilarating rather than debilitating.
Uncertainty and Change are Kissing Cousins
Uncertainty is a cousin to change, a tad vaguer and equally disliked by most of us. Why? Because we’re all about Camp Comfort where things are familiar. When something is well-known—certain—it’s typically part of one’s predictable routine, which feels secure. When “things as usual” are disrupted, we may feel threatened and react like a cat to an unfamiliar noise.
Fear is prone to assuming the worst. We fear being victimized, and that leads to reading cues in skewed ways, such as believing in threats that are not actually there. It leads to seeing things not as they are but as a mirage of our panic-driven perceptions. Here are a few examples from my experiences:
an urbanite who hikes a wilderness trail for the first time and is sure she saw a creepy threatening person hiding behind a tree.
an individual who has experienced abandonment in the past and creates drama in his relationships because of insecurity and misinterpreting things that are said.
people who are oppositional and combative because they feel they must fight in order to be in control and shore up their power.
Unless we’re in a war zone, a high-crime and violent area, or feet away from an animal attack, most of our fears are distorted perceptions. We create stress from the inside fearing rejection, judgment, or catastrophe—not because such things are inevitable but because a fear-focused mind over-prepares for imagined doom.
Fear Often Speaks with a “But” Statement
The intellect is not prone to trusting life. Commonly under the influence of fear, it prepares for the worst with gusto. So, it conjures “but” statements that reflect one’s past traumas. These serve as justifications for its protective actions, which may or may not serve one’s well-being, in truth.
“But, if you don’t fight, you’ll be taken over.”
“But, if you trust the way things are, you’ll be weakened and victimized.”
“But, circumstances have to be a certain way (per my beliefs) in order to thrive.”
“But, so-and-so said that…”
Can we know these are absolutely true, or are they more likely false perceptions?
The mind’s vigilant preparation is helpful in an actual crisis; and it’s detrimental in most other cases. Consider how many dreaded things you’ve feared that never happened. Running out of money and starving to death. Being rejected and dying from grief. Starting something, stopping, being defined as a failure, and not progressing in anything ever again. Saying our worst fears aloud helps us see their distortions and tomfoolery.
When I imagine the worst, I am an energetic match to like-minded fears expressed throughout the world. This is how fear spreads like a virus and keeps our collective state low. That means we suffer emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically, too.
Why are we likely to suffer on these levels? Because fear acts like a network of constriction, attracting other “members” of a similar nature. This silly, word-picture story illustrates the point.
Once upon a time, there was an afflicted family named the Frights. When mister mental “Cling” and misses emotional “Clutch” got together, they named their physical baby “Clinch.” Together, they diminished their entire well-being because, collectively, they pinched off the flow of life on every level. Spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally they were a mess, and, no big surprise, they were miserable. Closed to other perspectives that could help them regain their authentic, inner power, their hearts remained walled-off, and their light withered.
Absurd as that illustration may sound, it points to the essence of “life flow” and how one’s experiences are shaped by opening or closing. Whichever way we go, we magnetize members making the same choice.
Open or Closed?
Nature shows us simple truths about open and closed systems. Open systems rejuvenate; closed ones stagnate. Water that is free to move without restraint purifies. Water that is trapped gets nasty. So, keywords for each look like this…
Water contained by restrictive walls is certain and predictable. When water is unrestrained, its destination is uncertain, especially after an abundance of rain. Put in this context, the feel of uncertainty shifts from constraint to possibility.
For those who are risk-averse, let’s consider the pros and cons.
Closed System (Pros): Predictable, Perception of Safety. Risk (cons): Stagnation, Toxification
Open System (Pros): Flowing, Purifying, Free. Risk (cons): Unpredictable, Uncertain
So, what’s the greater risk, stagnation or uncertainty? That’s for each of us to decide for ourselves. My experience with stagnation has been more painful than discomfort from uncertainty.
This brings up an important distinction. Suffering from stagnation is on the back end—the result of non-movement, which is ongoing until we open and create flow. Discomfort from uncertainty is typically on the front end and doesn’t last long once you get going and gain momentum.
The consequence of movement with an open system feels freeing, even if the path is uncertain or you move in a direction that shows you what you don’t want. Ultimately, there’s a bottom-line question to consider.
In the face of change or uncertainty, do I openly trust the flow of life or tighten with fear?
We have every right to feel what we feel, and we probably have really good reasons, too. Self-love is respecting the fact that fearful emotions happen. Wise compassion honors those experiences, and the wise part of that equation doesn’t support indulging one’s fears into dis-empowerment, a closed state. Wise compassion is conscious, open, and empowered in trusting the flow of life.
Empowered Choice or Dis-empowered Reactivity
Every situation greets us with choice. From this point forward, we’re invited to deeply consider how we’ll choose to be with uncertainty and our fearful reactions.
Will I recognize that triggered emotions often arise from unhealed wounds that are waiting for my loving attention?
Will I acknowledge that fear leads me to believing false perceptions?
Will I indulge fear and tighten up, or will I choose the opposite: opening, trusting, and moving forward with courage to follow the call of my heart?
Uncertainty has been given a bad rap, and hopefully this discussion turns that misperception upside down. Yesterday’s unconscious perception of uncertainty is uptight, prone to panic, and “certain” about worst-case scenarios. People who are committed to raising their consciousness will stand up and take note when their self-talk says, “Yeah, but in this case, I’m right to fight against what is.”
What if that isn’t true and doing so leads to anxiousness, depression, and other painful stuff? Life shows us that we thrive when we open to our creativity, own our benevolent power, and offer positive contributions to the world. In making that choice, the highest level of joy arises from within that no circumstance can squelch.
Today’s awareness about uncertainty is knowing that it is a natural and beautiful part of being open. It is part of the expansive space of freedom where our greatest creativity can be enlivened and spread without restriction. There is a cure for the “dread” virus of uncertainty; it’s a potent remedy called “Trust.”
When we open and trust, uncertainty is no longer a dirty word; it’s another word for boundless possibility.
May we attune to the Infinite One we are in perfect unity, now and always.