Lying in bed, I found myself caught in a trance of uncertainty, and, as a result, panic. Thoughts, and ‘what if?’ questions flew through my head that I did not want to have, not now, not after the relaxing weekend I’d had. My heart tried to calm the fearful thoughts that sprung from this moment, telling them they were welcome, that it was OK to feel this way, that all the conflicting stories and emotions ping-ponging back and forth in response to one another within me were allowed, even in this convoluted state, even after a relaxing weekend, even now, as I was trying to fall asleep.
I woke up feeling less panicked, but not as grounded and peaceful as I’d like to. I did my yoga, my meditation, my e-mails, and while they helped, they didn’t provide a resolution to the uncertainty I felt within me – a sense that, somewhere, somehow, things had, without my knowing, switched to a different place, like a doll diss- and re-assembled in a surprisingly new, slightly ill-fitting way – and yet, a way I didn’t quite understand yet.
Why you can’t outrun uncertainty.
Uncertainty is that feeling you can’t quite put a finger on – vague, slightly out of reach, hard to put into words and yet – disconcerting. Most of us live in societies which value and demand clarity, certainty, resolution and finite answers from us. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Are you certain about your feelings or (those of) the person you love? What is your purpose? What’s the right decision to make? Can you be certain you’ll be OK?
The truth is that a lot of the certainty and security we hang on to, is but a temporary relief from the unknown.
In his book “The Structures of Scientific Revolutions”, physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn found that science, rather than steadily progressing towards a more certain ‘truth’, alternates between established truths and phases of turmoil and uncertainty. In his book “Modern Man in Search of a Soul”, psychologist Carl Jung said “each is deceived by the sense of finality peculiar to the stage of development at which he stands.” In other words – certainty, whether in our scientific or inner views of the world, is not the firm bedrock we want it to be. Instead, certainty is just one part of a cycle of ongoing evolution. A part, that is perhaps valued more in society, but no less ‘needed’ than a state of flux, turmoil, doubt and uncertainty.
What uncertainty really wants from us.
Uncertainty doesn’t need you to find answers, or even be dissected by probing questions. Usually, all it really wants is for us (you and me) to hold some open space for it. To let a state of uncertainty be – up in the air, as it is, without foreclosing on its meaning or ending, without panic. To welcome it home, like an old friend, making it comfortable, placing it by the fire with a cup of tea – while at the same time recognizing your yearning for its end, a resolution, a return to that feeling of certainty. To allow yourself to be here, at home, in the midst of this shifting tension of opposites.
Can you be gentle with yourself, as you navigate this moment?
A much as I’d like to, not even I, or any other coach / therapist / author / teacher / guru can give you the finite certainty you seek. What I can do, is meet you with open arms, while you’re here.