You’re not always going to be inspired.
Sometimes you’re going to be tired. Or stressed. Or angry. Or afraid. Or unsure.
Sometimes you will be in conflict and there won’t be an easy solution. Sometimes you’ll be in transition and there’s no quick fix. Sometimes there will be a question and you won’t have the answer.
The bad news is that sometimes things suck and there’s nothing you can do to make the suckiness go away. This good news is that you don’t need to. Confusion and uncertainty are necessary precursors to gaining clarity.
It’s human nature to want immediate answers to everything. Believe me, I understand. I don’t do well with uncertainty. If there’s something in the air I want to grab it and bring it down to earth.
A month ago my boyfriend was in a motorcycle accident, and it was shitty and stressful and painful – even more so because I didn’t have control of the situation and because so many things were up in the air. But then he got better (much better, by the way- he’s almost at 100%), his medical bills were barely anything, and he might get a settlement from the insurance company (keeping my fingers crossed for enough to fulfill the Nicaragua dream).
Then yesterday my boyfriend and I got in an argument, and it was shitty and stressful and painful because I love him and hate arguing and wasn’t sure if who was wrong or right or if I was being petty or dramatic. But then we talked it out and even though I still don’t know if I handled it right, it doesn’t matter because just the process or talking helped us understand each other a little better.
Almost my whole intern year last year was shitty and stressful and painful and made me regret my decision to go into medicine on a regular basis. But then I started my 2nd year with a whole batch of new interns below me and realized how much I’ve actually learned over the past year, and appreciate the power I have to do good for a lot of people.
So if you accept that life is going to suck sometimes, you can start taking steps to help yourself grow from uncertainty rather than suffer from it:
Relax into it. The way to deal with uncertainty is actually the same way as how to deal with pain. You relax into it. It’s counterintuitive, because all you want to do when things are uncertain is to become rigid and judgmental and grasp at answers. The problem is that the answers aren’t ready to emerge yet, and struggling is only going to make things worse during the process. So relax into the uncertainty- literally. Feel the tension in your muscles and let it go. Feel your mind churning and overanalyzing and slow it down. Your ego may resist because you’re afraid that reducing your effort will make you stagnate, but the opposite is actually the case. The more you relax the more you let clarity come to you.
Take a step back. You may be so tied up in the problem that you can’t see all the possible solutions. You may be so stuck on finding an answer right away that you’re not giving enough space for the answer to develop. Take a step back and imagine the situation from a broader perspective. Is it possible that what’s bothering you won’t be such a big deal in a couple of days, or weeks, or months? It is possible that the solution may work itself out during that time without your effort?
Learn from it. Challenging situations and difficult people are your opportunities to learn something important about yourself. Maybe the uncertain situation you’re worried about is a chance for you to practice patience or acceptance. Imagine that there is a greater purpose to the challenge you’re facing, such as to learn how to cultivate positive thoughts and intention in the face of difficulty.
Appreciate it. Life is boring when things are good all the time. Trust me, people who have it good all the time don’t appreciate it. It’s people who have occasional shitty times who appreciate the good. So appreciate the difficulties because when the situation you’re worried about works out you’ll enjoy it that much more.
When life slaps me in the face it makes me feel like I’m alive. Literally. It makes me feel alive, like I am a human being and I can do shit that is awesome. It’s almost invigorating in this weird way. It helps me not take all the good things for granted. It makes me want to take advantage of every second to do or think something positive.
When you don’t know the answer, you don’t need to rush to find it. Relax into the uncertainty, take a step back to gain some perspective, learn from it, and appreciate that you’re alive and have downs that help you enjoy the ups even more.
Image by Helga