Embracing Life’s Uncertainty
“When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” ~ Margaret Drabble
I came across the above quote some time ago and it has become one of my favorites. In fact, I was just sharing it recently with a client who is in the midst of uncertainty. And he is not alone. So many of us are finding that things that used to be fairly stable have suddenly become chaotic and unpredictable. Whether it is an organizational restructuring, relocation, ending one job and looking for or starting another, or just plain everyday hiccups that throw our daily routines for a loop – just about every one of us can identify with having our worlds shaken or even turned upside down.
When things like that happen, it can be quite disorienting and unsettling. Change seems to be easier for some people than others. It is easiest when we are the ones doing the changing. The tough stuff catches us by surprise. And when it does, we often become fixated on the discomfort it creates. It can be like someone pulled the rug out from under you and you have to shuffle to regain your footing on a surface that you are unfamiliar with.
SO WHAT. NOW WHAT?
Years ago, a friend of mine gave me a refrigerator magnet upon which the words “So what. Now what?” are written. These simple words have such great wisdom. They point the way that allows us to rise above our self pity and access the wisdom to intuitively make the choices necessary to rise above whatever circumstances we find ourselves in. So what. So what if things didn’t go the way we planned? So what if we were beset with unfortunate occurrences? Rather than spending our time and energy trying to find out why, why not focus it into what we will do next?
Rather than looking at what we have lost, we can look at what we still have – and at what, if anything the current experience has to teach us. Rather than becoming resentful and preoccupied with remorse, regret or anger and frustration at the way things have happened and the way we or others have handled them, we can start anew – right now, shifting our focus from what should be happening to what could be. What will we choose right now, in this moment? If we pause long enough, allowing our minds to become still, we will find that we have all the answers we need. And if even one of us can find the courage to do this, others, seeing the peace that comes from acts of faith this introspection tends to inspire, will follow.
When people we care about experience hardships, we do them very little good by lavishing them with sympathy, conspiring in their rebellion against a course of events that have already taken place. This insurgence does little to help them unless at the core of their rage they find the impetus to rise above their anger rather than react from within it. Our pity reduces them to helpless victims who believe they have cause to lament and despise what they have come to believe is a cruel universe. No good will ever come from actions taken with such a mindset.
Instead, we can help them to shift their focus on what has taken place (the past) to what they can do about it (the present). Rather than commiserating in woeful stories, we can help them to recognize the opportunities present in every challenge and to seize them with vitality and courage. Setbacks can then become platforms from which we and our loved ones can dive into our true natures – discovering ourselves to be far greater than we thought we were. This is what the great leaders throughout the history of the world have done that enabled people, countries, even nations to prosper under great adversity. We have the opportunity to do this every day, both for ourselves and others.
Copyright Synchronistics Coaching & Consulting 2010. All rights reserved.
This post includes an excerpt from my upcoming book, The Pinocchio Principle – Becoming Real: Authentic Leadership for the 21st Century, which will be released later this year.
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