Sitting In A Sea Of Uncertainty

Doesn’t it feel like we are all sitting in a sea of uncertainty? The world is once again in the midst of major changes and that can be frightening. After all, we don’t know how this is going to turn out, do we? We human beings fear change, mostly because change does not come with a guarantee of a happy ending. We have only the hope that things will be better than they were before.

boat on a sea of uncertainty
Sailing on a sea of uncertainty

We have so many things in flux right now. Our new president has promised to make big changes and those decisions are rocking not just the United States but the globe. The climate is changing, whether or not it is accelerated by human beings, science assures us that weather patterns are different and the earth is not the same as it was before. Technology changes how we interact with one another. Some jobs no longer exist, while new ones are created. Changes in health care, freezes in federal hiring and the fact that we are older than we were yesterday bring a feeling of dread. How do we find a place of peace in this ever-shifting landscape?

As these big changes loom, I feel vulnerable. Most of us do.

Brene Brown, a noted author and research sociologist, has studied how we avoid being vulnerable. We all use four main techniques to help us cope with the fear of being vulnerable:

numb out the sea of uncertainty
Party Hardy
  • We numb it with alcohol, sugar, caffeine or adrenaline rushes.
  • We make the things we wish were an absolute truth (even when they are not) and state them as fact. We want others to agree with those ideas as truth, so that we can be right. I particularly see this in politics, religion and sports teams, but this happens in many areas of our lives.
  • We try to be perfect, and convince others that we have perfect lives. We hide our mistakes and imperfections from the world.
  • We pretend that what is happening doesn’t matter to us, that it is not our problem.

Yet each of these coping mechanisms comes with a high price. Numbing the bad feelings numbs the good ones of joy and delight. When we demand that others agree with us, we alienate those whose opinion we could value and become more and more close-minded as we insist on our view. Being perfect exhausts everyone, including the ones doing their best to appear “normal”.  And pretending the change isn’t happening only prolongs the agony. For change is inevitable.

sea of uncertainty in a kayak
Am I alone here?

So we all are living in this sea of uncertainty. We feel vulnerable and scared, even though some of the changes are what we had been hoping for. It feels like a struggle to find safety while being tossed about in my little kayak on the ocean.

 

So now what? I do not have any answers.

Trying to follow my own advice, I meditate, exercise, get enough sleep, reach out to loved ones and remember the good things I have in my life.

Still I have moments (days) of retreating into myself and wishing things would just stay the same.
These are turbulent times. Then that little voice inside me says, “Yes. As usual.”

Buddha laughs while in the sea of uncertainty
It will be all right

“Nothing is forever except change.”Buddha

FLASH

icn-seths-head

Fear, Loneliness, Anger, Shame and Hunger (aka FLASH).

One of my favorite bloggers is Seth Godin .  I have included his picture here because it gives you a hint about who he is. (Note: While his picture says click on his head, nothing will happen.) Seth has been a TED speaker, is always an innovative thinker and posts every single day without fail (an awesome feat). While he says his focus is on marketing, the topics are much broader.  They always make me stop and think about life and how it works.

lightning bolt
Flash

Recently he posted about FLASH: Fear, Loneliness, Anger, Shame and Hunger.  Each of these emotions/reactions can cause us to attack and/or retreat, to do things in the moment that we are not that proud of later.  It turns out that these feelings do not lead to being sensitive to others or being kind.  The worst part for me is that I do not always recognize when I am feeling any of these.
In my family, we have an extreme response to hunger.  I lead the way, even though I hanutste to admit it. I become irritable, cranky and difficult to reason with when I am hungry.  The worst part is that I don’t recognize this feeling as hunger.  It feels to me like everyone else is being irritating and nothing is working right.  Let’s be honest.  I pout. Luckily my family knows to offer food and not listen to my “I’m not hungry” denial.  We have also added in a family phrase:  “real food”.  It turns out that the things I think I want (doughnuts, cookies, soda) do not work to cure what ails me.

As I watch the world react to the rhetoric that is being offered by all sides of the issues that face us, I realize that I am living in more fear than usual.  My first response to fear is to hide and be angry.  Sadly, I am usually angry at things that I think are beyond my control, which adds to the fear and a hidefeeling of shame that I am powerless to correct things.  It is not a good place to be.  To add to the mix, I am currently living in a state where I have few connections.  So that adds in loneliness.  The entire FLASH package, delivered to yours truly.

end-of-the-rainbow

So, what to do?  I am still working that out.  I am trying to eat well on a regular basis, hoping to forestall that pouting problem.  I am meditating daily.  (Okay, I need to do it at least twice a day).  I am keeping in touch with my friends and family. I am writing this blog, to keep me honest with myself.