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Choosing Inspiration Over Intimidation: How the Unknown Can Empower You

Facing the Unknown

“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” ~Eckhart Tolle

Lately, I have been reflecting a lot on what I was like when I was kid.

Back then, what I didn’t know seemed magical. It gave me room to imagine, to fill in the blanks with my own creative inspiration, and to live with a sense of wonder and awe.

I loved fantasizing and daydreaming and imagining what magical situation might be brewing in my life.

As children, curiosity was a natural and automatic part of us, and what we didn’t know didn’t scare us. If anything, it made us into warrior explorers who took adventures into the unknown, unafraid to change direction if something wasn’t working, unattached to the outcome, and perfectly content on the journey.

As a child, I was open and available to the possibility of the kind of world I wanted to live in. I loved learning about people and their life situations.

What I didn’t know inspired me to ask questions. And I asked a lot of questions. I was unscripted and unedited. It took people by surprise, but I shook things up everywhere I went and saw nothing wrong with that.

I was unapologetic about who I was.

I believed in the good, the magical, and the powerful, and I believed that fairytales were real. After all, no one had told me yet that was silly, crazy, or impossible. No one had convinced me yet that fantasy was not a useful tool for creating a worthwhile life.

But sadly, I was only wholeheartedly curious and unedited until about age five. Then I began to doubt, to limit what I knew to be true, and to edit the world I believed was possible.

I got really good at fitting in and being whatever I thought others would adore. I stopped asking questions, and I went through years of agreeing with everyone all the time.

I had forgotten who I was and grew fearful of rocking the boat. I now felt threatened by the unknown, and I lived with anxiety because of it.

All those years of forgetting about who I am, wound me up good and lost by the time I graduated college. I went through some pretty heavy rock bottoms in my twenties, super lost and so unsure of myself.

I struggled because there was this world I believed in, but then there were all the ways in which I had edited myself into a world much smaller. I knew there had to be a way out. It just took me some time to find it.

As it turns out, the way out was not some external thing that changed for me, but rather the willingness to search inside myself, a place I hadn’t spent much time up to this point.

I let myself start asking questions again and I contemplated those questions for months and years. Just asking them was enough to open up a whole new world to me.

I believe in the practice of taking what we do not know—that precious space where anything is possible—and allowing ourselves to live in its question mark, to play with what we really want, and to dance in the discomfort, challenging ourselves to build and create the world we want to live in.

If we don’t choose this, then what are we choosing?

What if we let the unknown be an invitation, a calling to a greater you and me? What if the unknown was a blessing and a gift, presenting us with a blank to fill in with whatever we want to create? What would be available to you if you let the unknown inspire you instead of letting it intimidate you?

I have so many unknowns in my life right now, and I am pretty positive I always will.

Will I become a wife or won’t I? Will I be a mom or not? Will I live here for the rest of my life, or will I move again? Will I travel the world again? Is this what I am meant to be doing, or is there something else or something more? What do I really want, and am I willing to do whatever it takes to create that?

Instead of making myself crazy, trying to get answers that I cannot possibly have in this moment, I choose to practice surrender and mindfulness.

Whenever I’m facing the unknown and I see myself going into a negative, fearful, victim place, asking questions helps me shift.

I ask questions like:

How do I know this bad thing is going to happen? Is that a fact? Since this is not a fact, what is a fact? The fact is that I am facing the unknown.

What do I prefer to create right now? Where is the magical place that I wish to go instead of this limited place? What do I want this unknown to mean for me? What would it take to create something better that I haven’t even thought of yet? Can I just live in the question of that? How does it get any better than this?

As we become responsible adults, we need to re-claim our power, remember who we are, and become the person we wish would save us so we can create the world we would be joyful living in.

It is up to us to let go of the outcome and to be curious and adventurous, like when we were kids.

When you are faced with the unknown, notice what you do. Become aware of whether you make up a negative story about it. If so, what would happen if you made up a fun, exciting, empowering, inspirational story about it instead?

Use your curiosity. Investigate your own mind, heart, and spirit. Ask questions. Explore. What adventure do you want this unknown to mean for you? What do you want to create?

Lastly, look outside your comfort zone. Instead of reaching for what you know based on your past, look outside the bubble that includes everything you’ve ever known. What is a new way for all the pieces to come together? How might this time be different for you?

Be willing to look beyond what is currently showing up. Sometimes we may not know how something will come into being, so we must stay present with the knowing we hold deep inside and committed to the vision we have for our lives.

We are human. There will always be uncertainty, but it doesn’t have to overwhelm us or freak us out. It could inspire us and get us excited about what magic is unfolding for us.

As for me, I am choosing to just be with what is. As I sit with my resistance to what is, I become aware that the temptation to make the unknown mean something scary and bad is just another distraction so I don’t have to sit in the discomfort of not knowing.

So every day I must re-commit to sitting with the discomfort instead of giving in to the temptation to make up scary stories about it. Just embracing what is can be the very relief we are searching for!

Uncertainty image via Shutterstock

About Erin Lanahan

Erin is an Internationally Certified Life Coach, Yoga Instructor, and Motivational Writer and Speaker. Her mission is to inspire as many people as possible to return to their natural state of peace, abundance, health, inspiration & love so they may create the life the deeply desire. Visit her blog  and  You Tube Page.

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  • oh erin, great article great timing for me to read it. Love your writing. Are you from Vero?

  • erinlanahanmethod

    Hey Claudia! Thank u! Nice to meet you 🙂 And yes, came home to Vero Beach 2 years ago, after living in Australia for 3 years and Los Angeles for 7!

  • vizuz

    It’s funny that we are more knowledgeable than ever. Yet – at the same time – we seem to have the least wisdom than ever. Today’s society is very effective at robbing us from our innocence, sense of wonder and unique identity. It’s desperately trying to hold on to what can’t be hold on to. When we grow up, society tries to scare us in doing this and that or else bad things will happen to you.

    Luckily, with patience, we can overcome this and get back to our center we experienced in childhood 🙂