The future is always uncertain. In prosperous times, there’s often a tendency to believe that our future, is secure and rosy. The current economic crisis has stripped away that illusion. It’s become more evident that we don’t know what the future holds for us as individuals, or for the planet.
If we embrace the challenge that these uncertain times offer, our lives can be rich and rewarding.There is a natural tendency for fear to arise in the face of uncertainty. If we allow our fear to take us over, we will likely experience ongoing stress and scarcity. Fortunately, there is another path open to all of us. If we embrace the challenge that these uncertain times offer, our lives can be rich and rewarding. In this article, I will offer three simple keys to thriving in the face of uncertainty.
Facing Fear and Embracing Uncertainty
There are three main ways respond to uncertainty. The first and most prevalent today is fear. The second is excitement. Some of us naturally thrive on uncertainty and find it enlivening. The third is peaceful acceptance. We can simply notice what’s going on (stock market crash, foreclosures, etc.) and take right action when appropriate from a calm, centered place.
If you are fortunate enough to already be in a place of excitement or peaceful acceptance in the face of uncertainty, just keep doing what you’re doing. But, if you’re caught up in fear, you might want to consider shifting your approach.
When I’m willing to face whatever fears arise, they lose their power over me and dissipate. I’ve come to see that fear is a doorway to love. When I’m willing to face whatever fears arise, they lose their power over me and dissipate.When something happens that triggers fear, that’s an occasion for gratitude.The fear didn’t come out of nowhere; it came from my subconscious. While it’s hidden in the subconscious, it’s controlling me and limiting the amount of love I can experience. There’s nothing I can do about it. When it’s triggered into consciousness, that is my opportunity to meet the fear and free myself from the hold it’s had on me.
Below is a simple process for consciously meeting fear:
Be grateful that fear has come into consciousness. Feel the gratitude as deeply as you can.
Notice where you feel the fear is most strongly in your body. Bring your awareness to that spot and go into the fear. Do this with an attitude of curiosity and exploration. Don’t try to heal or shift fear.
Shift your attention to your breath. Focus on gratefully receiving the gift of life.When you’ve gone as deep as you’re ready to go, be grateful for however deep you’ve gone. Shift your attention to your breath. Focus on gratefully receiving the gift of life. Invite the breath to come right into that spot in your body where the fear is most strongly held. As the breathe goes out, have a sense of letting go, allowing it to carry away whatever is ready to be released.
Dive into the emotion again. Repeat this alternation as many times as is useful.
Developing and Trusting Your Inner Guidance
In these uncertain times, all of us are faced with a myriad of choices, ranging from considering potential major shifts in our lives to daily responses to changing circumstances. I’ve found that the best way to make these choices is through inner guidance. Left-brain, rational analysis comes up short when key variables are unknown.
All of us have the ability to tap into a place of deep knowing. Accessing clear inner guidance is a skill that can be developed through practice. Below is a simple guidance method that has worked well for me and for my clients:
Think of a current choice. Release any attachments that might block you from getting clear guidance; prayer is one effective way to do this.
Remember a time when you felt totally clear when making a choice. Feel the “yes” in your body as deeply as you are able to.
Now focus on the current choice. Randomly pick one of the options you are considering and move toward it. As you move toward that option, notice whether you feel a clear “yes” or whether you feel some hesitation, doubt, confusion, etc. If you feel anything other than a clear “yes,” go more deeply into this option. Does the impulse moving you toward this option feel natural and expansive or does it feel contracted and effortful?
Let go of that option and go back to your reference point of pure “yes.” If it’s helpful, you can again remember that time you felt totally clear when making a choice.
Move toward a second option in the same way you moved toward the first one
Continue the process until you’ve deeply checked all options and are clear about which one is the strongest “yes.”
Living in the Present
When we bring our attention fully into the present moment, there is seldom anything to fear. Almost all the fear we experience is triggered by imagining future scenarios that scare us. When we are in the present, we experience whatever circumstances we are in as an opportunity, not a threat. We can respond with confidence and clarity or do nothing, as appropriate. We can tap into a deep sense that, despite the circumstances, all is well.
Of course, there are times when it is necessary to bring our attention to the future. When we do this from a place of presence and focus, we can effectively assess options and make choices (perhaps using our inner guidance) without fear. What we want to avoid is obsessive, fearful thinking about the future. When we catch ourselves doing this, we can simply be grateful for the awareness and bring our attention back into the present.
If you’re a visitor to Mt. Shasta, I encourage you to use your precious retreat time here to face your fears, use your guidance to make clear choices about your future and to practice living in the present. For those of us who are blessed to live in this beautiful spot, let’s co-create a community in which we cannot just survive, but thrive in these uncertain times.