Becoming comfortable with confusion and uncertainty
“Whatever happens, take responsibility.” Tony Robbins
Feelings of confusion and uncertainty can be uncomfortable and that’s why you may want to push through as quickly as possible. Yet you might want to hear how beneficial confusion and uncertainty can be in your life and how seeing the benefits may take you closer to living your dreams.
A few weeks ago I was mentoring a professional who was confused about her career direction. The feelings stemmed from an experience she had just before the GFC. Everything was going well in her work in the banking and finance industry. Then, one day she received a call from a headhunter who wanted to speak to her about an opportunity for career progression and promotion with a rival bank. She went through the process and after about 3 months of negotiation made the decision to leave the firm she’d been working at and after 15 years at this firm she moved to the rival. This decision cost her in terms of golden handcuffs and yet she was excited about the new role. Within 8 weeks at the new company the GFC hit and less than 2.5 months after she’d joined, she was made redundant. It took her more than 12 months to find new employment. Her biggest now issue was how feelings of confusion and uncertainty in any area of her life was evoking emotional responses that she knows consciously are disproportionately high and yet the feeling in her body is so strong she cannot help the overwhelm. I knew this discussion would be transforming and that together we could find some solutions.
Confusion is a lack of clarity about what is intended, required or desired. In other words it’s a state of seeking, of answer finding and of creating new neural patterns to learn something for the first time. Uncertainty, from the word uncertain is a state of hesitancy, instability, variability and subject to change.
Both confusion and uncertainty can be helpful from the point of view that they can help you to move toward changes that can bring forth more of what you want in life. They provide an opportunity to learn and to grow. These states can also help you to move away from the mundane or activities, beliefs and behaviours that are not serving your higher purpose in life.
Throughout history confusion and uncertainty have been documented as part of a natural process of life. While it may be a little woo-woo for many people in Tarot developed in the mid-15th century as a deck of 78 cards showed a process. One card in the pack called the Moon card signifies confusion, lack of clarity and worry with this card directly followed by the Sun card signifying optimism and enlightenment. In the Hero’s Journey, American mythologist, writer and lecturer Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) describes the process of growth involving stages of growth involving trials, tests and upheavals that lead to self mastery. A sense of accomplishment, freedom and reward comes from moving through times of confusion and uncertainty to the accelerated growth on the other side of this learning. I sum this up with the famous quote that was used in the movie ‘Die Hard 3’ means that without bravery in taking risks, going into a state of uncertainty you cannot reap the benefit. The word risk is defined as a situation involving uncertain outcomes, possibly danger.
So often there is absolute gold in appreciating that with confusion and uncertainty comes positive growth, and sometimes immense growth for you in many areas of your life with a willingness to trust in the process, go through the trials and tribulations and move through to find the ah-ha moment. To be the hero of your journey is to see confusion and uncertainty as a gift.
Four questions for self inquiry in a state of uncertainty and confusion include:
1. There is no failure, only feedback. Become mindful of how you label confusion, delays and perceived hinderance in process. “What is the feedback here? What could I learn from this situation?”
2. Focus on what you want to find. Change all internal dialogue of, “Why can’t I” to, “How could I?”
3. You are in charge of your mind and therefore your results. Focus on your own expansion by accepting yourself, and changing your behaviour. A great question to ask is, “What attitude do I most want to have in this situation for my own personal growth and happiness?”
4. Recognise that the person or system with the highest degree of flexibility of behaviour will control the system. Ask yourself, “how could I be even more flexible in my behaviour and attitudes.”
All of these questions tap into the non-conscious part of your brain delivering your outcomes. How the non-conscious mind works is that it stores memories, and represses all memories with an unresolved negative emotion. Like holding a large inflated ball underwater. Your non-conscious mind takes everything personally and does not process negatives.
If you are finding confusion and uncertainty uncomfortable and are committed to learning and moving past obstacles as they present in your life then sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or colleague who can assist you in a caring way is often the best place to start. For transformational change look toward finding a coach or learning new skills.
The professional I was mentoring was able to find clear patterns of life experiences that had left her with repressed negative emotions resulting in her behaviour that was out of context and out of proportion in her life now. The process of facing this enabled her to find a new level of self confidence and direction.
You may see some similarities in your own life and be telling yourself that this sounds familiar. If this is you, then appreciating that you are on a journey that is about growth will enable you to feel empowered by knowing that delays, trials and tribulations are on part of the journey. No guts, no glory!
Madelaine Cohen Author
Lipstick Learning is an initiative of Sydney based business leader, Certified NLP Trainer (ABNLP), entrepreneur and Master NLP Practitioner Madelaine Cohen. Madelaine runs NLP Practitioner Training Courses in Sydney and Melbourne. If you would like to learn NLP you’ll find more information at madelainecohen.com. Madelaine shares information and joins forces with people who choose to lead. She has more than two decades of inspiration from her businesses in consumer products, sports marketing, executive coaching and healthcare. She takes a leading role in mentoring executives and training business leadership in large and small enterprises. Why? Inspire people to lead and together we can create lifetimes of health and happiness. To find out how you can lead with even more authenticity and ease, contact Madelaine through Lipstick Learning.
Madelaine welcomes connection & networking so if you have something to ask or share, go for it.