Navigating uncertainty

I am in a percolating state of creation. I have a lot of ideas and am currently unsure of how to bring them to fruition. Although I am not ready to share the specifics of my dreams publicly I am interested in sharing with you the uncertainty of a the process of creation. When clients begin addressing the anxiety of a big transition in their lives, I get excited. I love supporting people going through changes, following their dreams, and living into the questions that don’t have answers yet. Yet when I find myself in the midst of transition, I am not excited. I am nervous. I can’t see the clear path ahead. To be in the midst of uncertainty makes me crave clear steps, mile markers, and clarity. At the same time another part of me also yearns for exploration, creativity and surprise.

What do we do with uncertainty, transition, and the unknown? In reality, we are always in a state of not knowing. I am on a plane heading to Chicago to surprise my best friend for his 40th birthday. I have a plan in my mind of how I imagine my time with him will be, but in reality I have no idea what is going to happen. 

When I think about creating something new, the superficial certainty that keeps me feeling safe fades away. Yesterday I shared that when I am in a moment of overwhelm or uncertainty I get a strong sensation in my head of a fast movement going back and forth. I have learned to recognize this as a hopeful sign. It means I am processing something I don’t yet understand, and that there is something shifting in my brain to attempt to integrate new information. I’ve actually grown to love this feeling even though it is uncomfortable because I’ve come to recognize that it means something is coming into focus.

With this new project nothing is in focus yet. I am mostly in a constant state of these fast moving head sensations interwoven with loud voices in my head that tell me, ‘I can’t do this,’ and ‘Who do I think I am to attempt this?’

One of the folks I confided in told me that she is excited for me. It was meaningful to me that someone in my life can hold my dream when I not sure. I needed someone else to hold belief in me while I struggle to believe in myself.

When I work with folks who are in a big transition or are dreaming of the next big journey I often ask them, ‘What is one small step you can make towards that dream?’ This is where I am currently finding solace. When I can see a tiny stepping stone to focus on, I can find enough support to keep me moving forward on this journey. As Lao Tzu wrote, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

My dear friend, RW Alves, often talks about the concept of comfort, overwhelm, and growth. Comfort can be helpful sometimes, but honesty I find too much comfort boring and stagnant. Overwhelm is unsustainable, stressful, and I can’t get much done because I am too flooded to think clearly. Growth can be uncomfortable, but also incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. As I sit in this uncertainty I vacillate between growing (i.e. finding that one small step I can take), overwhelm (i.e. this is all too much, and I can’t do it anyway) and comfort (i.e. deciding the dream isn’t worth it and I should stick with what I know and what I’m good at). Comfort comes with competence, and I love that I have many areas in my life and work where I do feel capable. I can rest in these places of comfort when the overwhelm sweeps into my body and mind. The growth is the exciting part where I can keep finding and meeting my next edge.

Yoga and meditation have challenged me in so many ways in the last fourteen years. The practice has asked me to grow and grow and grow. It has highlighted where I need to go even when I didn’t want to. My practice and intuition are asking me to grow again, and I’m facing the ambivalence of both desiring and dreading the discomfort of this next step.

When you are in a place of uncertainty or growth what helps you navigate the journey?