Handling Confusion and Uncertainty With Grace
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.
But not-knowing can also be a precious, magical space of possibility. 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.
Our culture has little room for uncertainty.
Part of what makes it so hard to accept and be patient with uncertainty 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. The pressure to be certain can be hard to shake.
But what if we don’t know what we want yet? What if we can’t see the path ahead? What if confusion is just what’s true right now?
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 parts of life.
There are times in everyone’s life 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 being wrong in the end), is to trust that by taking the 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 young that indecision and uncertainty is not acceptable, or at least not ideal. So to truly give yourself space to be in the process of getting clear, you need to create a solid boundary within your psyche that lets you fully enjoy that time and space of not-knowing.
This includes boundaries with people asking if you have decided yet, as well as internal “thought boundaries”.
This space is where the magic happens.
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 my friend 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, that next impulse is not always “The Answer”. It can be just the next step I need to take, and that’s OK. Learning to trust your impulses even when you’re not sure where they will lead is part of the process of becoming deeply in tune with your inner guidance.
Give up control and surrender.
The bottom line is that we are not in charge of inspiration. To live with grace, we have to trust grace to show up for us if we let go.
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 understand something, it’s not yet time to understand it, and you will let it be. You’ll start to focus on what is in front of you and let the future sort itself out, all in good time.