When “Coping” With Uncertainty is the Best We Can Do

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A series of events led me back to one of the many books I have on my shelf and I knew I simply had to share a portion of what I found with you.

I have come to accept that although I’m generally easy-going, I have “control issues” and I happen to know I am not alone.

Author Elizabeth Lesser writes:

“After all of these years of being broken open by loss and love and life itself, I still resist the river of change. Whether it is something going on in my personal life, or at work, or in the world, I still instinctually tighten my grip when things feel out of my control.”

from Broken Open

What follows is an elegant, brief essay where she quotes another of my favorite authors, Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chodron. One of Chodron’s books is titled Comfortable with Uncertainty.

Seriously? Who is comfortable with uncertainty? (Maybe only Tibetan monks.)

It’s my impression that for those of us “of a certain age,” our life experience has taught us a little bit about Coping with Uncertainty. Like it or not.

Some of us cope using avoidance.

Others drink too much, shop too much, binge on carbs, TV or the internet

Some keep so busy they don’t have to feel anything.

Others research the issue to death – another form of avoidance.

Many people turn to their faith or spiritual practices.

Maybe you use “coping skills” learned in counseling – a support system, moderate exercise, present-moment awareness and other tools

Make no mistake – we live in uncertain times. News flash.

The media makes sure we understand that as we are exposed to the brutal realities of our world. I suspect that was also said about the 40’s the 50’s, the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Anxiety about our unknown future is understandable and somewhat inevitable. It can be crippling. There are days we want to just hide from the horrors we see and hear and imagine. It feels like too much, too overwhelming.

Of course, I’d like to be in control. My brain tells me control is necessary for survival. Thank you, brain.

What does the heart say in response? “Ah, Hello Fear. What are you here to teach me today?”

I don’t know that I will ever actually become “comfortable” with uncertainty. I can, however, continue to find ways to accept What Is. (See quote below).

To summarize from Lesser’s essay,

“For every action we take, reality leaves little messages about its wisdom or folly…The answer to every problem is already wrapped in the problem itself. I need only stop resisting, open wide to reality, and decode the message.”

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