Uncertainty… next to anxiety it’s the other elephant in the room… In fact, they are often twins, the other side the same coin! Unsettling uncertainty unleashing a spiral of anxiety…
The reality though is that we cannot escape uncertainty. Life is full of it! All we can really do is learn to accept and even embrace uncertainty and ride those waves… Control the things we can control and let go of the things we cannot… As the serenity prayer goes…
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Here are a few tips to begin your surf lessons…
1) Simply sit with it… Often we try to run away from those feeling of uncertainty. Distract ourselves. Keep ourselves busy. Avoid and ignore the elephant in the room. This can work to some extent but is not a long-term solution. We can only run so far, or stuff things down so deep before they come bubbling up, before the uncertainty and anxiety overtakes us. Better to acknowledge the uncertainty, even if we can as the famous Rumi poem the Guesthouse alludes welcome it in like an old friend. Breathe and lean into it. Face our fears, those named and nameless uncertainties.
2) Control the things you can control and let go of the rest… With uncertainties and anxieties, it can be a fine line between control and surrender. If there are things you can control about a particular uncertainty that is giving you anxiety, do it. Often the simply daily things we can control like healthy habits such as exercise and meditation or simply breathing deeply when the anxiety creeps in can be incredibly powerful… If the uncertainty is an overwhelming project or task, you may not be able to control the outcome but you can control making a solid plan and writing down a step by step action list, doing your best and then breathing through the rest. Control the things you can (you attitude is often the biggest one!) and let go of control for the rest and trust the process, trust that things will unfold how they should.
3) Don’t forget to enjoy the present moment… Usually anxiety about uncertainty is future related. We can get so wrapped up in what may or may not happen and distraught with the not knowing that we forget to appreciate the beauty of the present moment we are in. Even if it is the smallest thing. The sun poking through the clouds after a storm, I would invite to find something you can enjoy about the present moment you are in. This practice of coming back to the present with gentleness, kindness, ease and joy is the practice of mindfulness.
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
— Jellaludin Rumi