Finding strength amidst uncertainty

Uncertainty; expected or unexpected, uncertainty always involves a fear of the unknown. Some types of uncertainty are welcomed such as starting a new job in the hopes of a more rewarding career or moving to a new city for a fresh start. The uncertainty in these situations is manageable since they’re predetermined and so there’s still some sense of control. But what about the moments when we’re presented with an unpleasant situation we were not anticipating? The instinct to panic overshadows any ability to trust and have faith that things will work out. Thoughts such as, “How am I going to get through this?” or, “I don’t think I can handle this” are way too loud for any self-assurance to be heard.

Certainty is a fundamental human need since it provides us with feelings of security and safety. We can relax and enjoy our lives when there are no feelings of instability bothering us. Nevertheless, uncertainties such as the sudden loss of a job, a health scare or a relationship falling apart will throw us out of our comfort zone and cloud any rationale. Change can be scary and unnerving especially when we feel as if we’re no longer the one in charge of our life. However we can always take charge of our actions and responses when faced with such situations. This doesn’t mean we won’t feel scared, instead we discipline ourselves to look past the fear and focus on a positive outcome.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Here are a few things to remember when faced with uncertainty which can help bring some peace of mind amidst the chaos:

Trust yourself – you’ve made it through every other hardship and hurdle you’ve faced before so you will make it through this too.

Tough times don’t last, tough people do – it might sound cliché but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You might not feel strong right now but you will be wiser and more equipped in the future.

Things do always work out – maybe they’ll work out the way you want them to or not but remind yourself of times when you’ve worried about an outcome and after it’s all been resolved you wonder why you ever worried so much in the first place.

Life goes on – there will come a time in the future where this uncertainty will be gone and you’ll feel secure again.

Growth only occurs outside of your comfort zone – as Tony Robbins says, “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” in order to succeed in life.

Everything is clearer in hindsight – you will get the answers and clarity you seek once you’ve overcome this hurdle and you’ll see things from a newfound perspective.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” – Steve Jobs

It may be difficult to feel confident or see a clear path as to where you’re headed but periods of uncertainty are a normal part of life. When our world feels shaky we can perceive every circumstance as negative but they can often present us with a brighter future. If you’re willing to take risks, uncertainty can open up a new world of possibilities and opportunities for new beginnings which won’t happen when we cling to what we know. Periods of uncertainty can also bring our insecurities to light which provides the opportunity to work on how we can provide ourselves with feelings of safety and security which aren’t derived from external circumstances. Trust yourself and remember that in time, you will make it through and feel confident and certain again.

“Feeling lost, crazy and desperate belongs to a good life as much as optimism, certainty and reason.” – Alain de Botton

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Ümit Bulut

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Don’t feel guilty for feeling bad

“Positive mind, positive vibes, positive life”

“Choose happiness!

“Think happy, be happy”

Ah, the New Age mantras we find ourselves bombarded with which we’re encouraged to follow in order to lead a better life. We’re told that positive thinking is the antidote to all of our problems but has positive thinking become an addiction rather than a cure? Have these well-intentioned ideas which are meant to empower us actually become detrimental? I’m not condoning the power of positive thinking however the huge emphasis on it seems to have demonised negative thoughts and feelings to a point where we feel guilty for ever having them.

Messages which place such a high importance on only allowing yourself to have thoughts and feelings which are ‘positive’ neglects the fact that we cannot eradicate negative thoughts; they will occur, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Therefore the solution is not to force yourself into happiness but to take a look at why you think and feel the way you do before you can transcend to a better place emotionally.

“Negative emotions like loneliness, envy, and guilt have an important role to play in a happy life; they’re big, flashing signs that something needs to change.” – Gretchen Rubin

Since ‘positive thinking’ has become an obsession, whenever anything other than ‘positive’ arises within ourselves we judge and condemn those thoughts which as a result leads to feelings of guilt or self-blame. We perceive ‘negative’ thoughts and feelings as so ‘wrong’ that we either try to wrestle them or do everything we can to avoid them in an attempt to feel better.

We have been gifted with a vast array of feelings and emotions yet we’ve chosen to only love ourselves when we feel good. While emotional mastery is important in order to be a resilient individual and thrive in life, we’re all going to experience worry and fear at certain points in our life. Most of the time our fears are irrational but if we’re not giving ourselves the freedom to feel whatever comes up for us, how do we expect ourselves to transcend whatever is worrying us? Unless we look at those worries and realise how powerless they are, we’ll do whatever we can to avoid them and positive affirmations such as “think happy, be happy” will only cover up the issue.

“I don’t believe you should go to your garden and chant, ‘There’s no weeds, there’s no weeds, there’s no weeds,’ and think that that’s going to solve something. I’m a believer in find the weed and rip it out.” – Tony Robbins

While it’d be great if we could only accept positive thoughts and reject negative ones, if there’s a problem or you feel upset, don’t be afraid to acknowledge it. So what if we can’t always feel good or choose positivity? Keeping up appearances does more harm than good as we deny ourselves the time and freedom to simply be with whatever thoughts and feelings come to mind. Positivity is meant to be the antithesis of negativity however the extreme fixation on positivity with an intention to avoid negativity is counterproductive.

“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” ― Sigmund Freud

As mentioned previously, most of our negative thoughts and feelings are irrational. Our brains have evolved since the primitive days of our ancestors but we still carry survival instincts which will always be with us. Therefore instead of feeling guilty for having a bad thought or for even having a bad day, let it be. Don’t pressure yourself into feeling better because you feel guilty for feeling bad (who cares if you can’t “choose positivity” for a moment?!) Sit with the negativity for a bit, just don’t wallow for so long that you become identified with it or reactive. Once you’ve let the negativity express itself, you’ll often realise it’s simply a phantom which you can then let go of.

Rumi’s poem, “The Guest House” eloquently describes how the natural flow of every thought and emotion we posses is better off accepted rather than rejected:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond

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W A T A R I

“An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.”

“An entire sea of water can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside the ship. Similarly, the negativity of the world can’t put you down unless you allow it to get inside you.” – Goi Nasu

Demonstrate resilience, unshakeable confidence, and always have your own back. That way no-one or nothing can deter you from happiness or pursuing your true desires. As a result your positivity remains strong and happiness is more constant as it’s your own choice rather than the effect of other people’s actions.

Which Wolf will you feed?

Which Wolf will you feed?

Are you going to tend to yourself and shower yourself with positivity, self love and focus on feeling good? Or will you allow the negative thoughts to get the better of you and bring you down? Happiness is a choice and it is in your power to make a commitment of choosing good thoughts and focusing on your strengths. There is always a choice regardless of the world outside of you and that choice is your outlook based on what’s inside.