“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” ~Tony Robbins
I’ve recently begun to feel as though I am at a crossroads in my career and, as a result, have been feeling very uncomfortable.
I love what I do, working with clients and mentoring new therapists; however, I’m also a mom to two little ones and am feeling the ache of the impermanence of their childhood. This has left me wanting to spend more time at home with them and, therefore, possibly working less.
If you would have asked me when I was twenty-five years old, I knew with absolute certainty that I would never want to be a stay-at-home mom.
In fact, most of my life has been colored by a laser-sharp determination and an absolute knowing of what my next step was going to be. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and a lot of a control freak!
Today, I’m sitting in a much different place; today, I’m sitting in uncertainty. I don’t know what the next step will be for me.
There are so many unknowns at this point: do I want to work or do I want to stay home, what other options do I have, where can my practice grow from here, where can I grow from here, and so on. My automatic response to this uncertainty is to obsess endlessly until I figure it out.
However, what I’ve come to realize is that all of my ideas of “knowing” actually block me from the truth more than they reveal it.
Uncertainty makes us feel vulnerable and so we try and escape it any way that we can.
We convince ourselves that we are fortune tellers and can therefore see the future. We make ourselves crazy, spinning our minds through the same handful of scenarios we come up with, over and over again, never feeling any closer to some sort of resolution.
However, it seems a great paradox of life that it is actually through embracing the uncertainty that we thrive. Our lives are greatly determined by what we do when we get uncertain.
Without uncertainty, we might never grow because we would never be pushed beyond our comfort zones.
Many of us have experienced staying in a soul-sucking job or an unhealthy relationship because the uncertainty of leaving those situations created more anxiety than the certainty of staying in those unhappy situations.
Many people do not end up following their true passions because it is seemingly impractical, or because there is a large degree of perceived uncertainty associated with following that path.
There are no guarantees when we step into the unknown. But it is in these periods of discomfort that life’s most important adventures can arise.
Making peace with uncertainty requires courage, faith, and trust that you will in fact be taken care of, that no matter what happens, you’ll find a way through it, that you don’t have to have all of the answers today.
Contrary to popular ideas, not knowing exactly what will happen next in our lives is okay. In fact, it is actually liberating.
The ability to let go, not know, and not try to totally control what will happen next is a necessary skill for living happy, joyous, and free.
Most spiritual practices ask us to consider the possibility that there is a power greater than ourselves at work and, therefore, it is okay to let go of the reigns sometimes.
I have found it easier to let go in many circumstances when I’m able to recognize that I’m not the only force at play, that there are circumstances far beyond my control that are impacting life and what the future holds.
If we fixate on “solving” problems, we tend to get tunnel-visioned and we walk around with blinders on, failing to see the possibilities.
We can’t embrace a new uncertain future when we are fully attached to our old lives or an idea of how we think something should be.
I have found that when I am in that anxious, fearful state, where I’m trying figure it all out on my own, that noise in my head that is trying to control everything will often drown out my intuition.
When we accept that things are unknown, that we don’t have all of the answers, we can see that teachings are always available if we are paying attention. When we trust, let go, and embrace the uncertainty, that noise in our own minds subsides.
Ironically, the quietness created by letting go of the need to know then allows contact with our own intuition, and we actually get clearer direction from within our own hearts and we can feel more certain about this direction.
I’ve heard it said that the furthest distance in the universe is from the head to the heart, but it is in stillness that we find this path. It is in the quiet space that we can get out of our heads and connect more deeply with ourselves, thereby allowing ourselves to be open to the possibilities when they arrive.
I have found meditation to be an incredibly useful tool to facilitate this connection. Carving out time in my day specifically for getting quiet and getting still has allowed me to find some peace with the fact that, for today, I don’t have all the answers of what’s going to happen next.
I’m able to set mindful intentions for myself to remain present and aware throughout my day, within the context that I am proceeding onto a new path in my life. With fearful dialogue in my head quieted, this skill is enhanced and I am open to new possibilities.
I will continue learning to listen to my heart, which let’s me know that I am okay even though I don’t have all of the answers.
And you are too.
About Jennifer Chrisman
Jennifer Chrisman is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist practicing in Los Angeles, where she specializes in using Mindfulness based approaches to help her clients find more meaning in their life. To learn more, you can check out her website here, or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.