Facing Uncertainty Without Slamming the Panic Button
“This time, we are holding onto the tension of not knowing, not willing to press the panic button. We are unlearning thousands of years of conditioning.” – Sukhvinder Sircar
This morning I awoke feeling uncertain about the direction my life was taking. Was it what I wanted in all areas? Was I right to be living where I wanted to, in London, away from family? Was I doing the “right thing” restructuring my business, and was I doing the “right thing” going away for two months next year?
I’ve had a few days like this recently, and while I’d like to blame it on my external circumstances, I know differently. I’m simply feeling stuck in thought.
I learned this in what I perceive as “the hard way.”
Three years ago, I experienced trauma that left me feeling empty and abandoned. I got married. You wouldn’t think that this was a traumatic experience, but in the space of one month (and for no apparent reason whatsoever), my family told me that I was “no longer part of their family” and that I “deserved” to be abandoned by my dad when I was four, and my new mother-in-law to be told me that she had “never liked me but that she would try.” Also, I lost my best friend of ten years.
It’s safe to say that my wedding day was a blur and I felt broken. Instead of experiencing wedded bliss, I ended up questioning my relationship and traveling alone to try to “find myself.” Really, I was trying to escape my pain and run from the uncertainty I was feeling about life.
Fast forward three years, and I now know something different. When we are feeling uncertain or doubtful, trying to predict the future or trying to work out the past—whenever we are not in the moment—it is because we are actually caught up in our thinking.
Sure, we can blame many of our external circumstances for these feelings and choices—there are plenty of things that have occurred this week that I could say have “made me” feel uncertain. But since I’ve discovered the truth of who I really am, I now know that my uncertainty is, in fact, coming from me.
Ultimately, our thinking influences how we experience the external world, which means we have a choice in how our circumstances impact us. That being said, it is human nature, and completely normal, to get caught up in our feelings about external events at times. The point is that we don’t need to be scared of our human experience or try to think our way out of it; we just need to accept our feelings until they pass.
It’s an Inside-Out Reality
As I journeyed through life after what felt like a breakdown, I came across a profound understanding about the nature of our human experience, which totally transformed the way I saw and danced with life. I now call this my “Transformational Truth principles.”
These principles explain how our entire reality is thought-created, which means that everything we see in the world and everything we feel comes from our thinking
So, using my current experience as an example: I’ve been feeling uncertain about where I should live, whether I should travel for such a long time, and how I’m going to restructure my business and maintain my finances. I know that I am feeling anxious about these things solely because of my thoughts.
If I weren’t worried about uncertainty (if I didn’t have an “uncertainty bothers me” lens), then it wouldn’t upset me at all. If I focused on the potential of my business growth, the excitement of the travel journey, and the beautiful feeling of living where I want to be living in London, I’d be feeling that thinking instead.
So, external events that are happening can’t impact us, unless what we believe about them bothers us. It’s the same with anything. If someone criticizes us, it can’t impact us unless we believe it ourselves.
Say someone criticized my creative talents, for example; I would probably laugh because I see myself as creative. If, like with my wedding, they criticized my worthiness, my ability to be loved, or left me, I might sob into my pillow for days, because at times, like many of us, I doubt my self-worth and question if I’m lovable.
Just because people thought I was unlovable, that doesn’t mean I am. The only reason it impacted me was because I believed it myself. In this way the external only ever points us to what we think about ourselves, and not to the truth.
Our Thoughts Are Not the Truth
We get so caught up in believing our own stories that we often forget to step back and see that what we think is just thought. Thoughts aren’t always facts. What’s more, you might notice how our thinking fluctuates. We can think differently about the same thing in each different moment. That’s because our thoughts are transient, and fresh new thinking is available to us in each moment.
When you understand this, you might well wonder, “Well, what is the truth then?” The truth is underneath our thinking. Within all of us there is a wisdom—a clarity—that is innately accessible to us, if we just allow the space to listen to it.
We do this by simply seeing our thoughts as “just thought” floating around in our head. Noticing this allows our thoughts to drop away—without us doing anything.
Allowing Space and Flowing
Usually, instead, we are likely to have a whole host of thoughts around how to react when we feel anxious about uncertainty.
For me personally, I would usually want to force and control things in order to “fix” my lack of certainty over my relationship or whatever my uncertainty might be in the moment—living where I was living, traveling, or restructuring my business.
You might make lists of action plans, or work out worst-case scenarios, or analyze why it happened.
This has always been a temptation of mine, and I spent months on this after my wedding, trying to work out if I should be with my husband or not, whether life would forever be difficult if I had children, why my in-laws didn’t like me, and why my dad left.
But, again, in the same way I now understand that it is not the external that creates my feelings about uncertainty, I also understand that there is no need to force certainty, or even look for the “why.” Sometimes there isn’t one.
Certainty Is an Illusion
It’s an illusion that there is any certainty in the first place. Life is always evolving and, as such, there is no safety net beyond the one we imagine. We do this all the time, but the only certainty in life is that there isn’t any!
Anything we predict is just our mind trying to “fix something,” which is futile. It can seem scary to think that we have no certainty, that we can’t fix things, but when we understand that there is actually nothing to fix—because nothing is broken—we can settle back into the flow of life.
I’m not saying it always feels easy, but I have experienced how my feelings about my wedding traumas settled down when I began to understand this.
We Are Universally Guided and Already Whole
We only see that there is something to “fix” because this is, again, our construction of reality. We are unlearning thousands of years of conditioning of how we view the world: ideas that certainty exists, and that we need to fix ourselves if things don’t look how we think they should.
Sydney Banks, the original inspirer of my Transformational Truth principles, said:
“If the only thing people learned was not to be afraid of their experience, that alone would change the world.”
Because, actually, there is nothing to fear. I believe we are always exactly where we need to be—because we are part of this amazingly miraculous universe, which is guided by some sort of powerful intelligence that no one really understands. In this way, we are already whole, always connected, and always safe. There is nothing to fix, because we are not broken.
Ultimately, the “answer” we are looking for is pointless. There is no “answer,” and we don’t need one. All we need to do is see how life really works and allow ourselves to accept where we are in each moment, knowing that it is a transient, thought-created experience of life.
We just need to flow, move with what happens, and sit in our feelings, knowing that they are thought-based, they can’t harm us, and they will soon pass.
In her poem “She Is a Frontier Woman,” Sukhvinder Sircar explains this well in saying that all we really need to do is hold on to the tension of not knowing and not press the panic button.
Allow the Creative Force of Life Flow
And so, this morning, as I woke feeling uncertain, I got out my yoga mat and journal. I stretched, I moved my body, I sat in the feelings I had, knowing that they would pass, even though they felt horrible.
I knew that they were not part of me, but simply my thinking, trying to convince me of something I believed that was fundamentally not the truth. I let go. I flowed. I accepted what I didn’t know. I didn’t press the panic button. Instead, I wrote this.
In the space where I could have (and would have previously) worried and attempted to solve things, the creative force of life—which is actually underneath all of our thoughts—simply flowed through me. In a much more beautiful way than it could have done had I indulged my imagined beliefs about the external.
When we sit back, creation gifts us with exactly what we need in each moment. We simply need to understand how this works and allow it.
This post is courtesy of Tiny Buddha.
Guest Author, P. (2018). Facing Uncertainty Without Slamming the Panic Button. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 5, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/facing-uncertainty-without-slamming-the-panic-button/