The only thing that is certain in this life is uncertainty.
Not knowing where you stand or what’s going to happen next or what will become of us is a really horrible feeling. Feeling all at sea and untethered makes us vulnerable and it’s very uncomfortable. It makes decision making really difficult and making any sense of complex situations is very challenging. It becomes a vicious cycle of desperation and need as we cling to anything that might give us some sense of certainty.
Although covid regulations are much lighter now, it hasn’t gone away and the last 18 months has required us all to accommodate and accept uncertainty about the personal, local and global worlds we live in. It has meant that the feeling of having our feet under us, feeling grounded, feeling anchored is a distant memory or an elusive experience that we crave to feel again. It can be easy to feel that we are victims of circumstances that are beyond our control and that we have no means to influence or manage it.
Our lives are complex and difficult beasts, influenced by our interaction with others and the circumstances particular to our situations. It is perverse then that our human vulnerability drives us to seek certainty in these complex situations and it feels horrible. So how can we reconcile the reality of uncertainty with feeling confident and grounded?
The starting point has to be our Minimum Viable Life – what are the basics we need to make our lives work? Some of these elements are certain and we can be confident in them. For example, I am certain that a cup of coffee in the morning sets me up. If we consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is those basics that set us up for the higher levels.
From this point, we see increasing uncertainty so we need to get comfortable living in the grey area. We need to be able to cope with not knowing. There is no easy answer to this but to get us confident and heading towards 80%, we can start with finding some connection points that help us to feel our feet under us. It might be connecting with a positive, confident memory, or getting a bit of feedback from a friend that makes you smile, or doing something for yourself that gives you that boost. In doing this, we are creating anchors that connect us and that we can return to when we feel low.
It might help to have your own mantra or several of them. For me and my sister, it’s a phrase that our grandmother used to say. It used to be said when we fell over and now I use it as a reminder to get myself back up when I feel low or when things are difficult.
Chin up, brave soldier.