July 4, 2020
NAVIGATING UNCERTAINTIES PART ONE
In A Time Filled With Uncertainty
Life, as we all know, has always been ever changing. It is continually evolving like a rough pebble upon the ocean shore. Where, over time, the pebble has the potential to develop into a beautiful jewel-like treasure. As the waves of time turn each pebble one by one and bring it to the shoreline, some take longer to smooth around the edges. Some stay washed ashore while others tumble in like rolling dice, cycle after cycle.
Very similar to the cycles of life, throughout those cycles of life-experiences many uncertainties may follow. Some cycles may appear to be more appealing, while others are more fear-based such as what we are now experiencing, due to the global pandemic COVID-19. It has been a disruptive cause that brings unavoidable changes, and thus drags along many uncertainties that exceed well beyond any individual’s comfort zone.
It can sometimes be very challenging to remain calm, collected, steady and hopeful when our surroundings are full of unpredictable and uncontrollable factors. Although we have experienced discomfort and fear throughout our lives, this pandemic is one of the most ruthless elements in which we have faced as a society on a global scale.
We can compare the pandemic to an unpredictable riptide which has taken us all by surprise. We are at a place where we are all simply trying to adapt to the uncertainty the pandemic has caused each one of us to feel.
This series is inspired by conversations with friends, as well as my personal experiences. Here, I would like to invite you all to look at how we can handle uncertainties as we try to navigate through life.
For instance, humans are naturally afraid of change because it brings such uncertainties to the forefront, and each of us has different tolerance levels in our appetites for change. Many of us don’t feel comfortable with change and have a hard time adjusting. Doubts and uncertainties breed fear and anxiety in our minds. For example, how anxious we feel depends largely on how much control we have and the capability to cope and manage the worst possible consequences, as well as how it is physically, mentally or emotionally processed.
However, before we touch down on the depth of those anxieties, let’s pause and zoom out a little, shall we?
Things change naturally, and change is a part of life
I want to invite us to begin to expand our viewpoints while looking at a bigger picture. Whether we like it or not, the universal truth is that, things change, the world changes, and people— just like the metaphoric symbol of the pebble in the ocean— are continuously evolving.
For example, are we as innocent and carefree as we were as toddlers? More likely than not, the answer would be no. So if we have changed greatly since being toddlers, it might make sense to say that to deny change is to deny the law of nature and the law of life.
Not everything can be under our control.
No matter how much we try to make life certain and make sure things turn out the way we want, there will always be a greater force in life.
Let’s just use COVID-19 as a prime example. No matter who we are or how much power anyone has – whether we are an average citizen, celebrity, politician, or come from royalty – COVID-19 does not discriminate. If we get exposed to it, we will most likely get infected no matter who we are.
Whether it comes from the risk minimization perspective or the outcome optimization perspective, hedging against uncertainties is the common ground. The pandemic has even left some of the most powerful leaders and scientists in the world stumped and unsure of how to go about adequately containing it.
With that said, by now, we can probably accept that humans cannot have total control in life. We can only best mitigate and hedge against uncertainties. Uncertainties will always be embedded as a part of life, so if change is unavoidable, the next set of questions might arise:
If I accept that changes and uncertainties are a part of life and that I cannot control everything, what do I do?
Do I just live life passively; letting the wave of life take me?
Am I that helpless and powerless in taking control over my life?
These questions might leave you wondering if there is a way to navigate change and uncertain times without maintaining that extreme notion of feeling utter powerlessness.
As a true believer in human capability and freewill, I am certain that there must be a way to better navigate a life of uncertainty and change. Which leads me to the key question – the question around the central theme of this series:
Although I cannot control what will happen in the future for certain, how can I best prepare myself to cope with uncertainties of life?
This key question is what we will be exploring throughout this series; we will explore how mindfulness can help us maneuver through uncertainties and restore our inner balance.
In my next post, we will be talking about coming back to the present and to ourselves to set up a solid foundation as the first key step. For if we have a strong and healthy root, just like a healthy big tree, we will be able to withstand the wind and the storms of life that challenge us with our inner strength.
And before I sign off from this first part, I want to leave you with this message.
“Uncertainty is a natural part of life, so instead of resisting it, learn to live with it.”
– Mim Chawimon
Until next time, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay strong!