Developing your response to uncertainty

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Every sunrise, you are faced with a decision: to avoid, to get over-excited… or to engage healthily.  Photo by Federico Respini on Unsplash

The dislike of uncertainty is a practical solution for a learning being.  A growing child, keen to learn in a focused manner, will use their dislike of uncertainty to fix themselves in a path of increasing knowledge.  The constant questions a child asks their carers is an indiation of this.  You start uncertain, and the mild disturbance you feel acts as a drive to acquire more sure knowledge of your environment.

All well and good.  But, somewhere along the line, the uncertainty response can spiral out of control.  If, however hard a person tries, the environment remains unpredictable, then less helpful behavioural patterns can ensue.

One variation is that the person simply stops trying.  A child, in an environment where parents are very unpredictable, can become unusually passive, because they haven’t found a pattern of action which gives them any satisfactory control over their environment.  It’s a logical strategy.

Another variation is that the person simply starts trying anything, pressing buttons until someone or something answers their call for help.  A young adult might use a combination of relationship dramas and drugs to counteract, or mask, the uncertainty in their life.

A third variation is to cycle between the two.  Some people will spend half the time passively zombie-like, and half the time overstimulated and hyperactive.

The one constant is the uncertainty.  While we are able to learn, we will all face some uncertainty every day.  It is our job to avoid the extremes: to try not to detach from the world in despair; but, equally, to try not to get over-stimulated and exhausted.  It’s an art.

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A MEDITATION

Today is going to bring uncertainty.  I will be in situations in which I am unsure what to do for the best.

At those times, am I going to keep a sense of perspective, and steadily gain familiarity and knowledge?

Will I be able to resist the danger of giving up and running away?  Will I remain able to speak up for myself, and participate?

On the other side, will I be able to resist the danger of getting over-engaged and over-excited?

Can I develop the art of being quietly engaged, without over- or under-excitement?

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