Surfing the Waves of Uncertainty
Well, it’s been a helluva week, hasn’t it? My spidey senses say it’s going to be like this for a while, so I thought it would be a great time to talk about maintaining calm in the face of uncertainty. The fact of the matter the uncertainty is pervasive throughout life, whether we are in the midst of an election or not. We all experience uncertainty and lack of clarity all the time. As they say, the only thing that never changes is change itself! The truth is we can use this time in our lives and in society to get really comfortable with the uncertainty that is all around us always.
Even when we think things are calm and stable, it’s kind of an illusion. Not to be depressing, but any of us could walk out of our doors right now and get hit by a bus, right? We don’t like to think about that because it makes life feel, well, uncertain. As humans we HATE uncertainty. We like to know in advance how everything is going to play out so that we can be prepared. RIGHT?
If anything, 2020 has illustrated for us in the most dramatic of ways that NOTHING is certain or predictable. Things we thought we could count on, like eating out in a restaurant or going to a bar on a Saturday night, or working out at the gym or even DEMOCRACY ITSELF have all been seriously called into question this year. It’s mind boggling. So what can we DO about it?
Well, there’s nothing to do about change. It’s like the waves of the ocean! All we can do is learn to surf!
Now you guys know, I live here in SoCal, so I have to bring in a surf metaphor. It just wouldn't be right otherwise. Truth is that lately I’ve been doing my fair share of boogie boarding (not surfing)...I like to call it “body boarding” because it sounds more serious, but really it’s still just boogie boarding. I feel like the sport gets a bad rap somehow. Anyway, every time I go out there the waves are different from the last time. I have even been out there for a half hour session only to have the conditions change completely from sunny and gentle to foggy and choppy.
In boogie boarding (and in life) the goal is not to control the waves, it’s to learn how to catch.'em and ride 'em and have some yeehaw fun in the process! This isn’t always an easy task, even for the most experienced surfers....and especially not for me! But lets face it, it's WAY easier on a boogie board (BODY Board) than it is on a surf board. Maybe that's a lesson right there! If you're having trouble navigating in life, just change your board!
But there are certain principles that can be applied to increase your chances of catching the wave and enjoying the ride and to reduce your risk of getting pummeled!
In boogie boarding it’s about watching the horizon and noticing when a swell is coming. Then it’s about not waiting too long to jump and paddle into a wave to harmonize with it so you get a good ride. You have to stay present throughout the process or you’ll either miss a good wave or get hit by one and find yourself in the spin cycle with water all the way up into your sinuses and seaweed up your butt!
It’s similar in life (not the seaweed up your butt part). If we’re not fully present with an open heart, events in our lives can catch us off guard and we will either miss an opportunity or we get completely slammed by what’s happening to us. We know that we’ve done that because we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances, we can’t turn off our thoughts and we are in a constant state of anxiety. If that sounds like you, I want you to know that there are simple things you can do to help yourself learn to be better at riding the waves of life.
I’m actually working on a course right now (MY FIRST COURSE!) that introduces these easy to use tools and teaches you how to integrate them into your most uncertain moments so that you can ride the waves of your life and really enjoy the ride! It’s called “Foundations of Joy: How to Take Your Life From Bland and Tasteless to Spicy and Delicious” and I’m having all kinds of fun riding the waves of creation (sometimes!). Seriously, creating this course is allowing me to really apply the tools again and again to bring in the spicy, juicy life that I want for myself AND I want for you.
I would love to know how these concepts land for you. So please drop me a line if any of this hits home or sounds interesting to you.
In the mean time here's some tips for managing these uncertain times:
1. Definitely wanna be upping your meditation game right now. Setting aside 5-60 min/day to just practice being present in this NOW moment without judgment. This teaches us to apply radical acceptance to more and more situations in our life. Simply Breathe in...Breathe out. I want to record a meditation for you but I can't find my damn microphone! I'm ordering a new one so be forewarned, lots more meditations coming your way in the next months.
2. When you feel overwhelmed maybe try saying to yourself "What can I do to be more comfortable in this wave?" Imagine you are literally out in the ocean riding a wave in the beautiful sunshine with blue all around you. Believe it or not your nervous system doesn't know the difference between what you imagine and what's really happening, so use that to your advantage!
3. Acknowledge that life is always uncertain and that this wave of uncertainty is just what is up for you right now. In another moment, maybe an hour or maybe a week from now you will likely feel more clarity. Wait with curiosity until that moment comes....keep your eyes on that horizon. It's more stable.
4. Focus on things that you are certain about right now. Do you know what you are having for breakfast? Do you know that someone loves you (even if it's your doggo)? Do you know that you are going to have a bed to sleep in tonight? Then believe it or not, you are probably doing better than you think!
5. Drop out of your head and into that beautiful bod of yours. Feel the breath as it comes in and out of your lungs, feel your body on the chair beneath you and the connection points between your clothing and your skin. Identify 3 things you can see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
6. Do the butterfly hug. It always calms me down in seconds and helps me shift to a state of greater clarity and wholeness.
IF you need more support to help you manage the uncertainty in your life and find your way through, I am here for you in whatever way would feel nourishing and supportive. Drop me a line and we can chat about possibilities or get on a quick call.
Until then keep riding the waves!