The classic response to days filled with fuzzy snapshots of flowers is to wish that they would never end. But, even flowers fade for seasons until more sun is shining. Nothing stays exactly the same.
In the pauses- or the bigger spaces- between heightened amazingness in life- there is a sense that anything can happen.
It’s called uncertainty. And it only really bothers us when we get too attached to single ways we see we want things to be…the way they “should” be in our imagination.
We ‘re all human. We want things. But wanting them one way- free of uncertainty- creates lots of stress. Which brings in worry, that leads to more stress, that creates bad decisions that create bad feelings… And gone is Paradise.
…unless you can sit in the spaces between things- the uncertain space- and find the greatness and potential in the fact that anything can happen!
Getting comfortable with uncertainty is not always easy breezy. You might be shocked at how much angst you feel, how strange the places are that your mind can go or how truly vulnerable you are. All of that is good! The trick is to stay balanced so that weirdness doesn’t capture your magic moments.
I’ve mentioned before that I had a big addiction to a famous psychic in New York City well over a decade ago. Before I met her, my life was vastly uncertain, it always worked out and… it was cinematically brilliant most of the time. She’s incredible and certainly didn’t foster my dependence on her, but I fell for the seductive nature of cancelling uncertainty from my life by loading myself up with her stunningly accurate predictions.
Three things happened:
- I became extremely insecure and paranoid, handing my power over to someone’s “vision” of my future.
- I started to get despondent in spaces of uncertainty, wildly upset, even depressed when “nothing was happening.”
- The magic drained out of my life.
This is when I realized that uncertainty is the stuff that makes life brilliant.
Realize that worry creates more to worry about…
Don’t make up your own stories about things that are based on fear.
My favorite worry saying: “Worry is like praying for things that you don’t want.”
Worry feels rational. It feels self-protective. It’s neither logical nor soothing. When you worry, you will find more and more to worry about.
Not a good strategy.
Instead of worrying, try dumping all your worries into a journal. Not only will this get them out of your head and your body, you’ll then be able to observe rationally all the irrational things that can swirl in the space of the unknown!
Stay present with your life right now….
It’s hard to create scenarios about the future when you are really present in a day! If I am really uneasy in a space between things in my life, I sit at my Buddhist temple and get super-grateful for the present moment. You can take a walk, close your eyes and just breathe, or try a visualization exercise that puts you more in the driver’s seat consciously rather than unconsciously.
According to researchers, we spend up to 95% of the day running off of unconscious programming- subconscious mind stuff. So, if historically you have had problems with business, health, love, family, friends… it’s a sign that you have been letting unhelpful subconscious information you absorbed at a young age play out in your life today. Often, the most “unconscious” times come in the spaces between amazing things— the time between visits to see your parents, the waiting to hear between incredible meetings, the time that lapses between awesome events— all great times to practice staying AWAKE.
Sleep more, eat better, be kind to yourself… these all make your days much more rooted in the “here & now.”
Try being more like water, flowing with what is happening…
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is really interesting because it is founded on rolling with everything that is happening at the moment for what it is. The PsychCentral article Tips On Tolerating Uncertainty explains this quite simply:
“From an ACT perspective, when we are faced with distress about uncertainty, the goal is to accept the distress, and to choose to act according to our personal values despite it.”
Specifically, ACT focuses on three areas: Accepting your reactions and being present; choosing a valued direction; and taking action.
Let’s say you value spending time with your family who live in another state. But you’re also afraid to fly because of the uncertainty of a) having a panic attack and b) not being able to handle it.
The goal with ACT is to accept that you’re afraid to fly, and that it might cause some discomfort, and to do it anyway.”
Ta-dah! Rolling with things rather than wishing they were otherwise is the best way to actually have a chance to make them turn out much better than you might have worried they would be.
Expect great things…
Because science has proven that we do get much more of what we expect, it is well-worth expecting great things.
What do you expect to happen right now?
If you can’t answer that question instead answer this one;
“What am I worried about right now?
Typically we expect what we worry about because it feels safer than disappointment.
Don’t prepare for the worst! Don’t guard yourself against investing in your life!
Start expecting amazing things to happen. Put symbols of these things in your home. Tape up Post-It notes if you must, scrawled with your positive expectations in uncertain situations.
If you can embrace this uncertain space between moments, you’ll find the greatness that artist’s mine, that great philosophers revel in and happy people accept as a part of life that is filled with potential. After all, if we were certain of every moment, would there be anything great left to experience?
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