Fearless Optimism + Coping with Uncertainty
By Rebecca Robinson
Today, we're going to explore uncertainty and how to befriend it by cultivating a creative, curious, and courageous mindset. To me, uncertainty is so often about projecting into an imagined future - but because human beings are wired with a negativity bias, we often envision worst-case scenarios on an almost apocalyptic, doomsday level - I know I sometimes do! But often, when we do this, we're not living in the now, in our present reality. We're fortune-telling and predicting, even though none of us has a crystal ball. Really, the best cure for this, then, is to sink into the here and now, to root ourselves here and focus on what we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, to seek out things that nourish our mind, body, and soul, like meditation or singing, rather than doing things that cause us to numb out, like endless scrolling or having another glass of wine. Uncertainty, though, does not have to be scary and something we run away from. I believe that it can become our friend.
The next time it pops up in our lives,
we could choose to see it as a golden ticket
and an invitation to be curious,
to cultivate an optimistic mindset,
and to be confident in our ability to handle any challenges that come our way.
Unfortunately, though, uncertainty often triggers us, leading us down a pathway of fear and self-doubt. But uncertainty can actually be a thought-provoking fuel that propels us toward knowledge and wisdom - and it's good to remember, too, that without uncertainty, there can be no creativity. If everything was fixed, certain, and known, there would be far less scope and freedom for the imagination to wander and wonder. Life is all about uncertainty - failing forwards, failing better, and taking lots of little calculated risks.
I really think that falling in love with
(or at the very least, accepting)
the wobbly, wonky, 'no guarantees' imperfectness of life
can help us become more empowered.
Very often, gaining knowledge, educating ourselves, and proper preparation and planning can be an effective antidote to feeling uncertain, giving us a roadmap to follow in case different scenarios unfold. But a lot of the time, uncertainty is just an uncomfortable feeling which makes us feel extremely vulnerable and exposed, causing us to hold back from throwing ourselves into our lives and even our creative projects. But before we embark on anything - whether a new friendship, a relationship, or even a job - we don't know how it will turn out, or what will happen. Before we create something - whether a poem, a painting, or a piece of music - we don't know what the finished work will look like or how it will be received. But if we stay stuck at a crossroads because of this, we let fear and uncertainty win and we go nowhere. We sink into the boggy ground of uncertainty and do nothing - and worst of all, we don't even appreciate the present moment because we're predicting all that could possibly go wrong in a fictional future. The only thing we can be certain of in life is our self - our values, our passions, and our core essence; those things that would remain, even if everything else was taken away from us.
What are your key values?
What are your passions?
What soul-deep characteristics define you?
No matter what,
these things will stay with you
and give you certainty.
Sometimes, too, when we feel uncertain, we look outside of ourselves for advice, for guidance, and even for a leader. I've done this myself on a number of occasions in the form of seeking reassurance from others if I feel uncertain or worried about something, asking 'what should I do?', 'what do you think?', 'what would you do?'. Seeking advice from trusted experts, and from people you respect and know have experience in those areas you're uncertain about, can be really helpful - and, of course, is essential in many instances, such as in relation to health issues. But very often, though, we operate with a low-level, background hum of uncertainty, believing that anyone and everyone else will know better than we do - which simply isn't the case. We need to practice tuning into our inner wisdom and trusting in that a little more.
We are the leader we've been looking for, and within us is the source of certainty we've been searching for. I've often found, too, that no matter how much reassurance I may get from others, I will still feel uncertain until something clicks into place and I remember my mettle and connect with my inner steel - knowing, deep in my heart, that whatever happens, I'll handle it. Uncertainty is a natural part of the human condition - but it doesn't have to be a bad thing. We can reframe it differently and train ourselves to seek certainty from within, drawing on our reserves of inner strength.
Remembering our strengths and character traits
will help us face the future with fearless optimism,
even welcoming uncertainty
with a knowing wink and a smile.
Uncertainty can be positive.
After all, there's a reason we don't skip straight to the end of a book before we even begin reading it. If we knew, with certainty, exactly where each page turn was leading us, we'd simply be robbing ourselves of the thrill of adventure that only an uncertain journey can lead us on.