“Uncertainty is a sign of humility, and humility is just the ability or the willingness to learn.” Charlie Sheen.
Humans like guarantees. There is a billion dollar industry that capitalizes on our need for certainty. We purchase extended warranties so we are certain we have recourse should our new purchase malfunction. We buy insurance for our home, car, life and things; all in an effort to hedge against uncertainty.
This may work for our things but what about our emotional certainty? There is no warranty to protect us against our reactive thoughts. Will the baby come on time, will my child be ok at their new school, will my spouse leave me for another, will my career be what I hoped for?
What if we learn to embrace uncertainty? What does this look like?
We plan, accept and remain open. We do everything in our power to plan for what will come. Then we accept our best laid plans may go awry. Plans change. When we accept this, we become nimble. Addiction to a plan creates pain, suffering, regret, remorse and paralysis. We react in negative ways. When we accept, we tap into our creative ability to improvise. We are often surprised that Plan B, or even the plan we previously had not considered, is even better.
When our expectations are fluid, we can adapt. We can change. When we demand fixed outcomes, we are closed off from creativity and the wonder of life.
My life is nothing like I planned it. In many ways it is better. In some ways it does not live up to the ideal mental image I had. In both cases I am able to see things in a new light.
For instance, I had an image of what kind of mother I would be. I thought parenting would come naturally to me. Then I realized just how few skills I had. Why did I think I had the skills to be a great mother? I had no training, read no books, had no experience and never thought to observe successful parents or ask what worked for them. I just thought by giving birth, I would also birth all this wisdom on what to do.
I remember when we took our firstborn home from the hospital and I was struck with terror. I thought “why are they letting me take this little being home? Don’t they know, I have no idea what I’m doing!”
This uncertainty motivated me to learn. So I read books, I observed (mostly what I saw didn’t work for others and vowed not to repeat it), and I discussed with others effective parenting strategies that universally do work.
By embracing uncertainty I become humbly open to learning. This openness gave me hope! Hope that through experience, trial and error, education, and conscious parenting I would figure things out.
“Uncertainty is the refuge of hope.” – Henri Frederic Amiel
Look not for what is certain in your life. That is where monotony lives. Look instead for what is uncertain and lean into it. This is the space where you will discover how great you are. This is where creativity is born. Through uncertainty you have possibilities you didn’t even know existed. Embrace this time in your life as an opportunity for amazing growth. It may be uncomfortable. You may have to accept you are not showing up in life the way you thought you would. You may realize some painful truths about yourself. You may realize that you lack the skills necessary to meet the challenges put before you. Wonderful! Now you can begin to create a new life. To heal those parts of yourself that are triggered by uncertainty. To live the dream you say you want, but have not been open to receiving, because you’re addicted to your plan!
“For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the start makes me dream.” – Vincent Van Gogh.