/ Happiness

Working With Confusion and Uncertainty

spinning in circles can be fun

Confusion or indecision can be unsettling and uncomfortable. Sometimes the desire to know and be certain is so overwhelming that we can work ourselves into an anxious state simply because we don’t know yet.

Our Culture Has Little Room for Uncertainty

Part of what makes it so hard is that modern culture emphasizes decisiveness, speed, and purpose. From grade school on we are encouraged and rewarded for knowing what we want and being aggressive in pursuing it. Our hero-stories are about people with strong missions defying the odds and building great works.

But what if we don’t know what we want? The pressure to be certain can be hard to shake.

Our cultural emphasis is overbalanced toward Yang-energy. Yin-energy (slow, gentle, organic) is equally important but is a neglected part of our culture.

Doubt and Uncertainty are Normal

There are times in everyone’s life (often several times a day!) when it’s natural and normal to pause, take stock, and let the next thing that is needed or wanted surface naturally on its own.

The trick to helping yourself reach a natural decision or direction (instead of a forced one that just ends up biting you later), is to trust that by taking time and letting yourself be in the state of uncertainty, you are giving your unconscious the time it needs to work out what the next best step is.

We learn early that indecision and uncertainty is not acceptable. So to truly give yourself space to be in the process of getting clear, you need to create a solid boundary around your psyche that lets you fully enjoy that time and space of not-knowing.

The remarkable thing about this space is that it’s where a lot of magic happens. The only place you can discover something new is in a space where you don’t know yet. So it’s vital that we give ourselves spaces of unknowing, uncertainty, and unformed creative potential.

Create a Nourishing Space to Be With Yourself

Sometimes I imagine myself inside of an egg–a potent symbol of a nourishing, waiting space. A cocoon or a cave are similar visualizations. I often will curl up in my bed as well–sometimes I pull the covers up over my head to really create a visceral sense of a holding space where I have nothing to do but be in the unknown of where I’m at. I will hang out there and soak in the nurturing feeling of it being OK to just be there.

(For more in this vein see Larisa’s post: The Importance of a Really Good Wallow.)

Inevitably, when I am in this space long enough, an impulse will emerge. I’ll have an idea or a feeling about what my next step is.

However, it’s not always “The Answer”. This is another key point: if you undertake any nourishing activity with an end goal of “This will give me The Answer”, it will backfire. You will be doing it with an agenda and you won’t truly relax.

Give Up Control and Surrender

The bottom line is that we are not in charge of Inspiration or the Great Works we are to do. We are one small spark in a giant Cosmos of interconnected beauty and artistry. To gain true clarity is to see your place in this giant dance–and that kind of clarity comes from watching and listening to the subtle movement of energy within you and around you. It comes from giving up control and seeking to align yourself with the natural harmony of the Universe. It’s a very gradual process and won’t give you instant clarity.

But over time, you’ll learn you can rely on it. You’ll start to get a sense of the timing of things. You’ll know deeply that if you don’t get something it’s not yet time to get it, and it won’t bother you. You’ll start to focus on what is in front of you and let the future sort itself out, all in good time.

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