What’s your relationship with uncertainty like? How comfortable are you in it’s company? Can you welcome it as an old friend, let it linger, and open to receive it’s gifts? Or do you recoil from the slightest brush of it’s touch, running for the known, even when that known is no longer serving you? Or are you someone who freezes with procrastination in the presence of uncertainty?
Chances are that living in a culture which values predictability, scorns uncertainty, and champions the idea of control, particularly control of external circumstances, has had it’s impact on you.
Much of the stress you experience may be the result of you trying to control the uncontrollable, or becoming attached to ‘the’ one particular way something ‘must’ show up in your life.
We’re sold on the notion that if we only try hard enough, we can reach that level of ultimate control, where life stays safe, comfortable and predictability. We’re told it can be ours, if we only have enough money, ‘power over’, qualifications, knowledge, status, thinness, muscle, youth, or ‘this’ particular product or service. But the reality is – life, by it’s very nature, is uncertain. We can’t erase or out manoeuvre uncertainty no matter how hard we try.
The incredible plus side of this is that, uncertainty, unknowing, mystery, make up the very field that creativity and innovation spring from. Uncertainty is alive with possibility. Our challenge is to let ourselves stay awhile in it’s presence, to open up to it’s potential, creativity, flexibility and potency, and work with it to optimize our gifts and talents – our contribution to an emerging world.
Tony Robbins said, ” The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably live with.”
But how do we go about changing our relationship with this thing we so often find uncomfortable? How do we increase our capacity to tolerate the discomfort, or maybe even get to a state of ease or friendliness towards it?
Work with Metaphors is one way.
What’s your metaphor for uncertainty?
What image do you connect with it in your mind?
How do you describe it? What’s it like?
What happens in your body as you connect with this metaphor?
How do you feel?
What actions do you take or not take as a result of holding this metaphor?
What other possible metaphor can you imagine for uncertainty?
What happens as you connect with this metaphor?
What do you notice in your body, and in your feelings?
What new actions does this metaphor suggest?
Unless we have already done work on this area, it’s likely that we are unconscious of the metaphors that are driving our behaviours. And for many of us our metaphor for uncertainty is a negative, fear inducing one.
Developing comfort around uncertainty is certainly one of my growing edges. I have noticed how even with something small, like painting a picture, I am anxious when faced with the uncertainty of the white canvas. I feel compelled to add some form, some paint, some certainty, even if I later paint this out. The form brings the uncertainty down to a level I can handle, and frees up my creativity.
I became aware of an image-metaphor of uncertainty that I was unconsciously holding and acting from.
I was standing, slightly off balance on the edge of a chasm, with razor sharp rocks below. This metaphor’s message is clear. Uncertainty spells potential danger, pain and even death. No wonder I found myself, contracted and constained, running for the warm, comfy cover of certainty.
I chose to play with another metaphor. Uncertainty as ever changing clouds. I could easily see myself watching with wonder and curiosity, the play of sky and wind. This metaphor evoked peace, patience and wonder. It created a state that helped me feel safe and wait, whilst opening to the potential of uncertainty – opening to insight, inspiration and intuition.
And then other metaphor – uncertainty as a potent sea of possibility. A benevolent sea of light, vitality, vibrancy, joy, and pure creative potential. I could experience myself immersed within it, feeling it’s cool freshness, and letting it’s light, and energy infuse every cell of my body. This metaphor brought in excitement, a sense of power, and a readiness to allow the wild, creative, abundance of uncetainty to surprise me. It created a state of positive expectancy, confidence and play that supported the likelihood of me following through on insights that emerged. It helped me imagine that the universe was conspiring in my favour.
How are your metaphors working for you at the moment?
What other ones could you play with?