03/30/2011 10:03 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Learning to Thrive in Uncertainty

Human beings abhor uncertainty. We want answers, and we want them now. Yet in times like these, when epic change becomes the norm, the only thing that's certain is that there is more uncertainty ahead. We can't change this; we can only manage ourselves and our responses to it.

Last week, we discussed some ideas for braving the storms of change. Yes, we can learn to cope with change, but why not learn to thrive? The choice is ours to make.

Listening to NPR in my car recently, I heard a reporter interview a survivor of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. When asked what the biggest challenge the people of Japan are facing is, the person answered, "Uncertainty." With all that has been destroyed in this country, it's the not knowing when things will return to "normal" that poses the most difficulty for survivors, at least according to the person interviewed.

We are living in a time when there are more questions than answers. To the ego, unanswered questions are like kryptonite. Yet the greater the upheaval, the more questions arise:

  • What will happen in Libya and the rest of the Middle East? Will Gaddafi step down or be defeated?
  • What will become of the people of Japan? And what about those nuclear reactors? Is our air safe? And what about our food supply?
  • When will President Obama close Guantanamo? Will we ever get out of Afghanistan? When will the economy recover? When will the unemployed find jobs?
  • How will I pay the rent? What will happen to my home? How will I manage on less?
  • Will we be successful in making the leap into a higher consciousness? What will happen to us if we don't?

The answers to these questions may not be important for some, while for others, these are life-changing questions whose answers are still uncertain. So we live in the tension of the unknown and the unanswered, and this is very stressful for us as humans. We are designed and conditioned for certainty. To be successful in this initiation into uncertainty, we need to be re-ordered from the inside out.

The Importance Of Knowing Thyself

You are your own best asset. Yet truth be told, you're not who you think you are. You're much, much more. You probably think you know yourself pretty well. After all, you and you have been hanging out together since, well, since the beginning of this gig you call your life. You've been through bad and good times together. You've seen plenty of ups and downs, weathered the storms, laughed and cried together, been through losses and wins. Yup. You've seen a lot together, you and you.

Perhaps you've seen glimpses of your transcendent nature, but mostly what you know of you is the humanness of you, and that's a good thing to know. After all, you are a human being, and your humanness is a quintessential part of who you are. But you're more than that. You're made of the same stuff as the stars. You are a hologram of the universe. It's all here, right here in you, right now, this very moment. You really are stellar, in the true sense of the word. But don't take my word for it. Listen to what some of the greatest scientific minds in the world have to say about this.
Over 3 million people have viewed the following video. I've watched it many times and every time I view it, I am uplifted. Have a look:

"The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it. It's the way those atoms are put together. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself."
--Carl Sagan, American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist and author

"I know that the molecules in my body are traceable to phenomena in the cosmos. That makes we want to grab people in the street and say, "Have you heard this?"
--Neil deGrasse Tyson, American astrophysicist, science communicator and Research Associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History

We have the capacity to weigh and consider incoming data, make comparisons and projections, pull up information from our memory banks, check against past experiences to determine what we already think, believe or claim we know. We can analyze, rationalize, marginalize. We can justify, defend, contract and contradict. And all this takes place in our brains in a nanosecond. We humans are pretty amazing creatures, all right!

But at the human level, we're challenged to look beyond appearances and see possibility imbedded within current circumstances, just waiting to be teased into manifest form. Because we are experiencing change at a pace and on a scale that humans have never experienced before, we're being coaxed to shift from our old ways of being. The re-ordering has begun. A new paradigm awaits.

Old Paradigm Consciousness: Fear, Control And Greed

The paradigm we're leaving behind has been one characterized by competition, scarcity and greed, and it has brought us to our present state, which can no longer be sustained. In the great collective shift, we can see those systems based on the old paradigm breaking down. As the younger generations begin to exercise leadership and demand change, the old ways are beginning to collapse. This is what we see happening in the Middle East as we speak. The revolutions we're witnessing are inextricably linked to the evolution of consciousness taking place within humanity. Those in power fear this change, for it threatens the status quo and their positions of power. But it's unstoppable. Mankind has already begun to take the leap into a higher state of consciousness, and we're going through the shift to living in a higher vibration.

New Paradigm: Love, Balance And Unity

The leap into a greater consciousness requires that we set aside the old ways of greed and control and learn to be cooperative. Indigenous cultures have been giving us this message for centuries. It requires that we redefine what "winning" means. Winning can no longer be defined as "he with the most toys." Though we still see much of this paradigm still at work in the world, it too is dying. The trash heap of history is full of our discarded "toys." There is no more room at the inn.

This great balancing is part of the shift. We are turning away from the illusion of being separate to a recognition of our true nature, that we are all connected and that love is who we are. We must learn to honor the Earth and live in balance with our Mother. We must learn to live in alignment with these greater truths.

What Does This Mean For You?

Primarily, it means that you need to choose which path you'll follow. The choice will always be yours to make. You can remain "as is" and maintain your own status quo. Change is not comfortable, and uncertainty is a given. You can hunker down and hope for the best, pray that it all passes and that you'll emerge unscathed and intact.

Or you can lean into the change and uncertainty and learn to thrive in it. This will require that you know who you are and that you're infinitely capable of handling whatever is in front of you. This is the great "letting go" of who you always thought you were in order to embrace who you're becoming. To do this, you must not only believe but know that you have what you need. You must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Try This Little Experiment

Go stand in front of a mirror and look at your self. What do you see? Do you see your imperfections: the wrinkles and extra weight, the sagging skin, the missing hair or errant hairs cropping out in inconvenient places? Are you noticing your crooked smile or teeth that need whitening? What about those love handles?

Keep on looking at that person in the mirror. But now go beyond appearances and look deeper. What do you see?

Can you see your desire to love and be loved? Can you see the person who cares about others? Can you see your generous heart? Can you see the one who might have fears and doubts but also is courageous? Can you see your beauty, your loveliness, your tenderness? Can you see the one who forgives and trusts even when your heart has been broken? Can you see your hopes and dreams? Can you see the one who has always known who you are and has never forsaken you?

Which person is really you: the one with imperfections or the one who is beautiful? If you answered "both," you get a gold star. You are both beautifully imperfect and perfectly beautiful. You are all possibilities, happening at the same time. You are a tiny microcosm of this enormous macrocosm, evolving and changing, unfolding and becoming. You cannot stop this process. It's much bigger than you are.

Look around. You're not alone. We're all in it and we're in it together. Group hug! We can do this, but only if we do it together, with the conscious intention to be in service to each other. We have a front-row seat in this story. We are not just innocent bystanders.

You might never leave the comfort of your armchair at home, but your consciousness matters. How you conduct the affairs of your daily life matters. You don't have to go out and try to change the world. The world has already come to you and is seeking your co-operation. Just tend to business right where you are. Who you are with the person in front of you in the check-out line at the grocery store or to the person who just cut you off in traffic matters. You can be part of the solution or part of the problem. Your choice. There's that word again.

As our beloved Ed and Deb Shapiro counsel in their book "Be the Change," be the change! Be the one who awakens and then turns around and is a resource for others to awaken. That's it. That's all that's required of you. Wake up and help others do the same.

Did I mention this is a team effort? Pardon my redundancy, but I want to make sure you get this. We're either going to sink together or swim together. I vote that we all swim! In fact, I vote that we learn to become synchronized swimmers who create beautiful patterns, like fractals, eternally evolving and unfolding to reveal the hidden mysteries of creation.

Are you ready to be a source of awakening right where you are? Please let us know how this resonates with you. We're all listening.

Many blessings along the path.


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