CHAPTER 1 - BE FASCINATED BY UNCERTAINTY
In Part 3, I promised to provide you more direction, so I apologize if my new year's resolution blog entry didn’t deliver any concrete solutions, the intention was to be honest and vulnerable with my feelings about the unknown future. I wanted readers to know that there can be many ways to look at coping with uncertainty. I am currently investigating this age old art form, a science that escapes even the most intelligent, a philosophy that some of the wisest men forget, but a principle quality that children grasp innately and effortlessly, a coping method called ... FASCINATION.
You can see uncertainty with passive fear and neglect, or you can see it with active fascination and curiosity. Uncertainty can paralyze us. It can prevent us from living what we love. But it can also invigorate by inviting us to be children again. It can encourage us to explore with curiosity rather than consequence. When we have the courage to be fascinated, we explore an optimistic side of ourself that views pain as temporary, sadness as necessary, fear as trivial, and death as a door. With fascination, we employ curiosity as an investigator and detective, not a crippling judge and critic. To cope with uncertainty, here are some thought directions I am currently taking to foster fascination.
Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism and Japanese Martial Arts used to explore without preconceptions. When I use Shoshin, I investigate with a child’s mind, one that is open to many possibilities. I do my best not to use an expert’s mind, because then I narrow my possibilities.
Law of Opposites is the philosophy of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, by which “the observation that everything in existence is a combination or unity of opposites”. With Shoshin, I invite myself to be curious with the feeling of uncertainty, just like a child would with a closed door. I question what I am uncertain of - not knowing what’s behind the door, and follow up with the law of opposites strategy; I focus on what I am certain of - knowing that when I open the door, I will have an answer. Behind the door can be another question, it can be an answer I was not expecting, or it could be one that I was hoping for all along, either way, I have fostered a step forward, through the door, by being actively fascinated and curious.
I remind myself to think about what I have control over - the physical ability to open the door and walk through it. I assert that all negative feelings such as uncertainty, fear, and sadness, all have an opposite feeling, and that my feelings can slide back and forth along this continuum of emotion. The Law of Opposites allow me to appreciate my ability to slide back and forth and not see either side as good or bad, but as just laws of nature.
Shoshin allows me to explore without jumping to conclusions. The Law of Opposites allows me to see the truth in Georg Wilhelm Hegel’s quote, "contradiction in nature is the root of all motion and of all life", and how uncertainty is simply a natural part of life, something to be fascinated by.
My most often used approach in coping with uncertainty is just saying “F**K IT”. A book by John C. Parkin that a friend recommended me beautifully describes this method. “Saying Fuck It is like massage for the mind - relaxing you, releasing tension, giving up on things that aren't working. This title argues that saying Fuck It is a spiritual act: that it is the perfect western expression of the eastern ideas of letting go, giving up and finding real freedom by realising that things don't matter so much (if at all).” Most often, it’s the time we spend ruminating in anxiety about the uncertainty that kills us. These two little words pack a punch. They are motivation unparallel to any that can be given by a coach, words that will change your life because they were uttered by you to yourself. Go ahead and try it, it’s empowering as F**K.
IN A NUTSHELL #1 - Just like any relationship worth cultivating, our success with uncertainty requires that we be patient, clearly communicate intentions and expectations, and commit to the process. We must be able to see uncertainty as something to be fascinated by instead of something to be fearful of. Marx’s law of opposites comforts us with the knowing that the uncomfortable sensation of uncertainty will always eventually flow to a sensation of certainty. And finally, when in doubt, just say F**K IT and take action.