“As You’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi told us in Return of the Jedi
I was just chatting with a newfound friend about the circumstances we find ourselves today and the irony of it all. I consider myself a social media introvert, and a cautious explorer of technology. I delight myself learning to use some interesting tools and imagining their possibilities or what is yet to be invented. Still, that’s what they are for me, tools.
I have spent hours discussing what our future lifestyle shall be with the influence of AI and its many gorgeous and dreadful applications and untangling my feelings about humanity in the years to come. Now, I am “handcuffed” to my screens.
Despite their current prevalence and undeniable usefulness, technology, and non-biological intelligence have moved down on the list, as an invisible microscopic thing spreading with the speed of light has bound us into revisiting priorities. How typical of nature to put things in perspective!
Are human beings wired to fight uncertainty?
Our society values control over many things, the need to avoid uncertainty through measurement and calculation has taken unbelievable proportions. It seems we rather know something bad is coming than having no clue whether we are about to get shocked or exhilarated.
We spend a great deal of time talking about the array of “maladies” affecting the world these days, and/or preparing to condemn the lack of assertive response. Our environments are constantly bombarded with negativity. We have become so plagued with toxicity, bad news, violence, and anxiety that it feels “normal” to live this way.
Let me clarify that I am talking about the need to make things to unfold in certain ways, not about taking preventive measures to contain and ensure the safety and well-being of every citizen during dangerous outbreaks like COVID. I applaud living responsibly and consciously and appreciate the enormous sacrifice and heroism of everyone making this difficult time easier for us to cope with.
My “Reality” is screaming: RUN!
Where is all this going? When will it stop?
How do I get the reins back! Did you hear the news?
It is scary to be overpowered by something we have no control over. We have the right to freak out when our lives take a turn we could have never predicted. Yes, our brains feed easily from doom and gloom. Nonetheless, behind every challenge, there is an opportunity in disguise, and our crisis today is no exception.
Undoubtedly, fear is at the root of our particularly prevalent tendency of trying to control outcomes and face reality with a struggle-scarcity mindset combo.
Wired to expand and grow
Today we know about the brain’s incredible capacity to rewire itself almost on demand. We know that our bodies are a reservoir of memories and knowledge and we are aware that our emotions and thoughts do not have to render us powerless.
While some aspects of what makes for “us” are probably embedded in the brain and genetics, there is a load of less objective-explicable things that make for who we are.
How do we behave when faced with certain challenges, what is our disposition and focus, the choices we make, all this can bring not only a completely different scenario, studies have shown that it can even change our biology!
What a beautiful “Star-Trek-ish” view…
Tuning our radar to uncertainty
I think we can agree that life is characterized by uncertainty. How do we go about living if we don’t even know if we are going to be here tomorrow? The key to quickly adapting to change is being highly engaged. We cannot predict where or when a change will happen, but we can minimize risks and find contentment by being fully committed and responding rapidly to it. The ability to adapt consciously and faster than the situation changes is what makes the powerful difference between coping and succeeding.
This kind of adaptability requires strong relationships and trust. The challenge here is to acknowledge that it takes honesty, openness, and trust to build a burgeoning community and to accept that there are no guarantees.
We can’t control nature or change, but we can choose how we respond.
Sensitivity to uncertainty gives us an edge
Albert Einstein said: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.”
When you are learning to draw you practice taking an image and copying what you see to perfection. Although I enjoyed the challenge, my eyes — and something else- usually ended up distracted by specific lines and gestures and completely forgetting about perfection!
After many sketches and portraits, I began taking pictures and playing with them- choosing small bits, highlighting areas, changing colors, adding textures, and so on- to recreate more interesting interpretations of reality. I forced myself to keep on with this “technique” until one day when the number of “mistakes” was too many, and in despair, I decided to ditch the sketch and scream at my canvas: “have it your way!”
Never could I have predicted what this would do for me. To make a long story of short, I was so impressed with the results that I embraced allowing the painting-to-be, a.k.a. -uncertainty- to take me wherever it wanted.
Leaping and Adapting gave my art and creative confidence a boost. They flourished because I walked straight into “it”.
1. We become resourceful and happier
Uncontroversial knowledge can be limiting, uncertainty allows us to experience different ways of knowing. When we question our ideas and assumptions, when our usual ways become less dependable, we open ourselves to intuition and serendipity. Inviting uncertainty indulges creativity and flow.
2. Every step can become an exciting adventure
Moments of uncertainty bring us closer to who we really are, they force us to move steadily and focused because we cannot see ahead. These are instances when we look inwards and get in touch with our values, desires and longings, and remember what matters to us and take the risks that expand our horizons and make us grow.
3. Levels the playground of our shared humanity
After long spams of feeling lost and exhausted and finally done with freaking out, uncertainty offers the gift of solidarity and connection. It opens us to listen closely, to feel deeply and empathize with others around us and with their ideas. How others effectively cope makes us curious and we can now engage with solutions or enjoy some time down among “peers”.
4. Living in the moment
Once we accept that it is not in our hands to control or perhaps even solve the issue, we can focus on what to do with our time. Stressing, screaming, fretting, would end up conspiring against our overall well-being and making us sick, and that is precisely what we are trying to prevent, no?
As we are wired to fight-flight, we are also wired to evolve and grow.
Ask yourself, what is the better use of my time now? How can I make this particular moment one I would enjoy, or make productive for me and/or my love ones?
When we focus on the now, we stop being distracted by the past and the future, every minute is fresh and pregnant with possibility. When we start living moment by moment we are stunned by the power of intention, we realize how much we can get done and the simple gifts that make our lives wonderful.
5. The door to unconditional love
Emotions are hard to come to terms in our culture, we restrain them or let them run wild. Uncertainty brings emotions to the surface and gives us a heads-up to explore and befriend our pain. Emotions are an expression of our life energy, when we allow them to be, we can experience the space around them that is us. Through awareness and letting go, emotions become a window to our many dimensions of being human and a compass to moving toward the happiness and fulfillment awaiting for us.
Uncertainty, is driving you crazy? Reframe it! Train your mind to look for intriguing, positive aspects in the situation at hand, do not shut down ideas, move from a creative place and enjoy wandering and playing. Innovation comes from letting go what things are and allowed them to become something new.
Adaptability is about smiling at reality and letting it know we are prepared. It is about being brave and experimenting, about being smarter in our choices, reading signals and acting upon them. It is about embracing that change happens and mistakes are just ways in which we get better at things.
Handling uncertainty and learning to adapt gives us a powerful edge.
If uncertainty hits, remember:
You are not alone! You are as capable of turning lead into gold as the next person.