How to... get uncomfortable with uncertainty
The Happiness Explorer, by Lydia Kimmerling
We never really know what lies ahead. Isn’t it funny how the things we do know for certain — that we will grow older and that eventually we all die — are the things we fight hardest against?
What if, when faced with a lot of uncertainty, you were able to flow with it, so that you were calm and accepting and could believe that everything was going to be okay? Because that’s what we want when we’re faced with uncertainty; we just want to know that everything is going to be okay. What would be different for you today if you believed everything you felt unsure about, or were worrying about, would work out okay?
It’s important to define what I mean by ‘okay’. There is suffering in the world that is not okay and things happen that cause extreme pain and deep trauma, which is not okay. This is not about being blasé and saying, ‘Oh don’t worry, you’ll be okay’, and disregarding painful experiences. If you have suffered, or you are suffering, as a result of a traumatic experience, someone saying you will be okay may not be enough. There are many amazing healing modalities that can help you and sometimes addressing and healing the trauma is exactly what you need to free yourself from the past and move forward.
The type of okay I am talking about is faith in yourself to get through whatever life throws at you. For example, if something doesn’t work out — the new relationship, the job interview, the move to a new house, the company you started — you know you’ll be okay because you trust yourself, and you can handle change.
To trust yourself is to trust life itself. How trusting are you? Your experience of life is the experience you have of yourself and if you fear change, then you fear life, because you and life are always going to change.
When you don’t trust yourself, you stay in situations that rob you of your happiness, such as when you no longer enjoy your work but won’t leave because you see it as too risky. Perhaps you are unhappy in a relationship but stay in it too long because you think it’s safe, or you long for a promotion but won’t speak up in the meeting because you fear the reaction. It’s when you know that you need to make a change, but you resist taking action because it feels like there is so much unknown — and the unknown is scary. Dealing with uncertainty means finding comfort in the unknown.
In times of uncertainty, we are most often worrying about something in the future that hasn’t happened yet. It’s as though we want to reduce the unknown so much that even thinking about the worst-case scenario (which can be easier to believe) feels less scary than accepting the complete unknown or thinking about the best-case scenario and risk being disappointed.
To change how you’re feeling during times of uncertainty, you first need to bring yourself into the present moment and accept where you are now. This deep level of acceptance will connect you to your true self who is not worrying, fearful or doubting themselves. Your true self is happy and at peace and this is when you feel most empowered.
For more tips and advice on being true to yourself, follow Lydia Kimmerling (aka The Happiness Explorer) on Instagram @lydiakimmerling and drop her a message to say hi and that you read this column today.