Movement 10: Facing Uncertainty
Our industrialized western culture likes to think things can be predicted and controlled, made ever more efficient and perfect. We like the idea of certainty and equate it with security. But the natural universe we inhabit is more dynamic and our perception of that reality more limited than we like to admit, meaning we really can’t know or control as much as we would like to. This will only become more true as face late stage capitalism, social change, and climate chaos. Letting go of a need for certainty can help us take needed risks, be adaptable, and ultimately more resilient. How can you personally become more comfortable with uncertainty? Let’s explore that with this movement.
“No one can possibly know what is about to happen: it is happening, each time, for the first time, for the only time.”―James Baldwin
“Be open to the outcome, not attached to the outcome.” —Angeles Arrien
“One is never afraid of the unknown; one is afraid of the known coming to an end.” —Krishnamurti
Life is a balancing act of holding on and letting go. —Rumi
“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”― Gilda Radner
Exercise One: Meditation for Uncertainty
We often tend to focus on the future, which we cannot control, and can become overwhelmed with planning and worrying. Meditation can bring us back into the present, into the only moment that we actually inhabit. Try one of these meditations for uncertainty:
Exercise Two: Wisdom Stories
Humans have been using wisdom stories to teach important truths for as long as we have been communicating with one another, and many ancient wisdom stories are still incredibly relevant for us to learn from today. Read these wisdom stories and spend some time reflecting on what meaning they communicate to you.
Exercise Three: Learn More About Your Own Perceptions
We like to think that we can really know things and even that we can control things, but many factors come together to shape how we experience reality. Better understanding how your perceptions can be skewed can help you better understand the differences you experience from other people and the uncertainty of the world. You don’t experience reality … you experience your reality. Realizing this might help you better face uncertainty. Check out these resources to learn more about your perceptions vs reality:
Exercise Four: Values Based Decision Making
In the face of uncertainty, it can feel really hard to make decisions and plans of what to do. The recent pandemic has been a prime example of this, with people having to shift the way they live, work, and socialize in radical ways to respond to a changing health threat reality. What can you rely on when facts remain unknown and outcomes uncertain? How can you avoid getting whipped around by your emotional reactions to uncertainty and change? Well, one place you can ground yourself and your decision making is in your values. Values based decision making is a process of clarifying what you value most, and using that as the guide for each difficult decision you have to face. Once you know your values, it becomes easier to let them guide you. Try it out:
- What surprising twists and turns has your life taken? When has uncertainty and change been a good thing in your life, and when has it not?
- In what ways do you think you perceive reality differently from the people around you? When is this a challenge and when is it a gift?
- How do you cope with uncertainty? What do you fall back on when things are unknown or uncertain? How do you make decisions in the face of uncertainty?
- What feels most uncertain in your world right now? How do you face those uncertainties?
- How can we, collectively, make better decisions in the face of uncertainty? How do we move forward into an uncertain future?
Next: Movement Eleven