The myth of control:
We all long to know what happens next in our lives, to have some certainty.
But the truth of existence is that we know nothing about what comes next, and we never did. All we know is this moment, and that everything changes constantly.
So yes, we may believe we are in control over our thoughts, situations, other people, or how we might feel five seconds from now. But deep down, we know we are not. Because if we did have some sort of real control, we would only ever have positive thoughts, others would only ever be kind to us, and everything that happens would be wonderful. This is obviously not the case.
The question, then, is how do we choose to relate to this uncertainty? And when considering this question, we may even experience a sense of relief and certainty. Because, even though we cannot change what is happening around us, we still have a choice as to how we respond to it.
Choosing to respond consciously and wisely, and regularly committing to practicing techniques that we know work to keep us relaxed, builds both our character and resilience.
Spirituality begins when we can relax into uncertainty and not knowing. Out of that space we have a chance to find stillness and to reconnect with life as it is, as it presents itself to us.
Not knowing can be a quiet and peaceful place. We only become anxious when we think things should be different than they are.
So be willing to not know, allow yourself to feel uncertain, and see if you can relax into that space. Who knows—what happens then might surprise you. As a result, you may experience clarity or a deep connection to the moment, feeling peaceful and free.
Here are three practices to help you to relax into uncertainty:
1. The sacred pause
Intentionally stop your rushing around and your mental activities. Take a deep, conscious breath in and out, and for a minute or two, just pause and notice your inner experience. Recognise your inner experience of what is going on right now, and allow it. Ask yourself the questions: “Can I be with it?” or even, “Can I let it be?” Do this several times a day, whenever you think about it.
When we pause, we disrupt our habitual behaviors, and instead, have the opportunity to open up to new ways of responding to our often-unconscious wants and fears. Also, when we pause, we turn toward our experience instead of running away from what we feel. The degree to which we can be with whatever comes up determines our ability to be at peace with the reality of the moment.
2. Acknowledge your fear
Distracting yourself is not going to work long-term; we know that, we’ve tried it for most of our lives. Acknowledging fear (or any emotion for that matter) and being with the feeling of fear has the ability to bring you powerfully into the moment.
Although being with fear may bring up discomfort, the good news is, fear resides in the same place as another emotion: love. In other words, if we can access fear, we can access love—and feeling love is the antidote to feeling fear.
The felt experience of love has the power to dismantle fear and cut right through it.
It is not always easy to find that individually, but the knowledge that we can lean on and feel held by others who are also facing their fears can help.
Just say to yourself: I feel a little afraid right now, acknowledging and recognising that you are not alone. Others are feeling fearful too—it’s our shared humanity; we’re all connected. But remember: you can feel the fear and turn it into love.
3. Be okay with not knowing
When I notice myself becoming invested in an outcome or think something needs to go a certain way, I have the sentence “maybe yes, maybe no” ready to apply to the situation. Basically, we just don’t know what the “right” outcome or way is, and it can be liberating to acknowledge this. Regularly say to yourself: “I don’t know.“ This way, you keep your mind and heart open to all possibilities and allow your life to unfold as it may, led by a wisdom that goes beyond your mind.
I hope these tips are of help to you during uncertain times.
Please feel free to share what works for you in the comments below. May we all learn from each other.