Leslie Palumbo, LCSW
Becoming Comfortable with Uncertainty
Updated: Apr 14, 2020
As we all adjust to this new normal in the external world, we would do well to remember that there are some things that always remain certain.
In the past few weeks, we may have experienced a wobble of sorts as external circumstances shifted around us. We may still be experiencing that wobble as we worry about what the future might hold. Anxiety, jitters, exhaustion, lethargy, or physical illness are all reactions to external stressors. External uncertainty is like that. In fact, all external forms are like that, temporary, uncertain, and sure to change. These times are an extreme example of this governing law of the universe. The temporary nature of form is a certainty. In her book Comfortable with Uncertainty, Pema Chodron writes;
“ The root of suffering is resisting the certainty that no matter what the circumstances, uncertainty is all we truly have.”
Accepting this truth can be very liberating.
There are also other certitudes, formless and lasting, that can provide great comfort during times of upheaval. One such surety is the concept of vibrational resonance. We get back what we put out. Another way of saying this is that our external experience is a reflection of our internal reality. And while we may not have control over external circumstances or know what changes may be coming our way, we do have control over our internal lives. We can regulate our thoughts and our awareness. We can govern how we approach our daily life. We can choose our attitude and our response to each day, circumstance, and person. If we place more emphasis on the positive, it will bring more of the same into our lives. Are we staying focused on the things we can be grateful for each day? Are we remembering what we appreciate in each moment and in our lives? Are we offering kindness and generosity?
As Pema puts it, “what you do for yourself, any gesture of kindness, any gesture of gentleness, any gesture of honesty and clearseeing toward yourself, will affect how you experience your world. What you do for yourself, you’re doing for others, and what you do for others, you are doing for yourself”.
There are other certainties in life which transcend the personal. Somehow, these come from within and beyond us at the same time. Love, joy, and enthusiasm are forces that exist beyond the mind and continue to thrive whether or not there is a global health or financial crisis, a war, or a natural disaster. These virtues are our basic birthright: they transcend even death. It is wise to stay connected to these influences in our lives and not let ourselves be distracted from them no matter what is happening around us.
In fact, one of the most courageous things we can do is to allow ourselves to feel joy in the midst of our pain. Allowing is the key. We accept uncertainty as a fact. We allow a larger perspective and choose our point of awareness or attraction in each situation. Through this, we are liberated to experience more of what is good and true in this life, and we expand the possibility of this experience for others as well.