It can feel nearly impossible to thrive in uncertainty. Uncertainty is uncomfortable, even painful at times.
“Pain is weakness leaving the body.” ~ Justin Taylor, personal trainer
I grunted and snorted as I tried to do the “crab walk” across the gym floor. My arms and legs were already blown from 45 minutes of weight training moves, and I trembled with muscle fatigue. Midway across the floor, I hesitated, considering whether or not to just throw in the towel.
Sensing my exact thinking, my trainer, Justin, barked, “Don’t you give up on yourself! KEEP GOING! Almost done. Heading into a cool down when you finish these.”
I gritted my teeth and heaved-slung my body toward the wall. When I arrived, my elation was tempered only by the full-body exhaustion seizing every cell in my body.
“You did it, Star,” Justin said. “I knew you would.”
I smiled, collapsed onto my back, and panted while I stared at the ceiling.
“So, what do ya think about our new routine?” Justin asked.
I turned my head toward him and said, “It’s not my favorite thing.”
We both laughed.
Not My Favorite Thing
During my Nuclear Winter years (2008-2013), I devised an expression to wield in the face of crushing fear and uncertainty. When peppered with questions from people in town about my imploding marriage or my devastating financial situation, I’d let out a breath and say, “It’s not my favorite thing. But, I’ll get through it.”
It worked like magic. People would stare and me and wait for me to elaborate. Wallow in the details. Recount each morsel of misery.
I refused. I just smiled and asked the person how he/she was doing.
My mantra was equally effective when used proactively on my reptilian brain which yapped endlessly that I was going to die alone, penniless. When I could feel myself sinking into catastrophizing, I’d snap out of my stupor and say aloud, “Hey! Yes, yes, it is scary as hell right now. It’s not my favorite thing. It’s not forever.”
And then I’d refocus, get back on my mental horse, and concentrate on the next action step.
I “crab walked” through each day for five years, shaking, scared out of my mind, and yet, determined to thrive in uncertainty. I didn’t have the luxury of crappy thoughts. Indulging in letting my thoughts run off without me wasn’t going to get me out of the fire I was in.
I learned, too, that even five minutes of letting thoughts go by unaware could pierce my willingness reserves, poking holes that drained essential energy I needed to work and think. I could stand and feel color leave my center, a rainbow of creativity puddling at my feet, wasted.
Creativity I desperately needed to get my new venture off the runway successfully.
How to Thrive in Uncertainty
If you are in a season of uncertainty, try coming up with your own mantra that neutralizes the zinging attacks from your mind. Or, feel free to use mine! Regardless of your go-to phrase, remember to deploy it like a Smart Bomb and walk away.
Walk away from the chitter-chatter in your head, or that which is coming at you from friends, family members, or colleagues. Do not engage in details, or telling the story of your situation over and over. That only serves to keep you stuck and reinforces neural pathways that take your mind straight to Funk Town.
Build new track in your mind so that the train of your thinking rolls on different rails. Empowering rails. Rails that shorten the distance between where you are and where you long to be.
To me, the worst part of experiencing uncertainty is not knowing how long it will last. If we get our mantra in place and decide that uncertainty is just a part of suspended time as we create, we can come to see that it is our ally, offering space to sort out what to do next.