The Taste of Uncertainty
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Uncertainty is like a virus that can unseat us. Gone is clarity and decisions become like torture.
I had an experience of this recently. I was signed up to co-teach a workshop at a conference with someone who I didn’t know very well. At first, I was excited and looking forward to the experience because I love teaching. Workshops provide such a wonderful amalgam of people and energy and exchanges of insight.
And then it hit me that we don’t know each other: we don’t know what our relationship is, we don’t know if we are friends, colleagues, and if my role is to be a mentor. Suddenly, I was plunged into uncertainty of not knowing my role, which was certainly not a good place to study and prepare for teaching.
Being stuck like this is very painful. It’s easy to latch onto doubt, hesitation, fear, pain and confusion. It is easy and quite natural to do so. But how do we find our way out?
The first step is to acknowledge how we feel without letting our assumptions interfere. Our assumptions, almost by definition, are habitual, and we seldom take time to feel what is underneath them, as well as take into account what others might feel.
Understanding that our actions almost always stem from how we feel allows us to see when they are beneficial or not.
Just like any other feeling, when rested within, uncertainty has a tendency to melt. It’s a bit like a mud puddle. When resting long enough, the mud will settle down and the puddle will become clear. When that clarity emerges, you can once again see what you need and are then able to make a decision.
With this friend, I was able to rest in uncertainty. It was tough, but worth it. We never did have that “getting to know you” conversation I craved, but we were both able to show up and bravely be present for our work together. By being willing to rest in the discomfort, we found a way to communicate with honesty and simplicity.
By the end of the day, we were not necessarily closer friends, but there was a sense of respect and dignity. I no longer had to “figure out” what to do about our relationship. All I had to do was show up and be myself. This was the best decision ever, and I truly believe the participants benefited from our journey as well.
Article dedicated to Yael who asked a good question.
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