Consider: The Advantages of Not Knowing
For me personally, the thing in my life that has the potential to cause the most anxiety is me wanting things to turn out a certain way. I have found myself in the mental trap of “thinking” that I can navigate a particular outcome and so I put on my General-Manager-of-the-Universe-Hat and formulate in my mind all of the amazing things that will happen when I land on the desired outcome for a particular project, person, plan, trip or whatever. It looks something like: Everyone that I love will love me back with love to spare; I will so rock my next meeting that the client will sign up for a lifetime membership and tell all their friends to do the same; from that, I will gain a million clients; then I will evolve into the next latest, greatest, new and improved ME! The next thing that actually happens is that I then begin to fear that it won’t come true…and, then the stress begins.
Funny thing, the stress doesn’t enter because I don’t know everything — it comes into play because I start to believe that I am actually in control of how everything will work out.
The advantages: By virtue of not knowing, I am actually happier, period. When I meet with family, friends or clients, they can feel my happiness. I am cool with how things are going and since this is a positive attribute it is actually one that is very attractive to others. We love rubbing elbows with people who are calm and settled about life in general.
I am totally okay regardless of what happens. Therefore, I am good with any outcome of a meeting, a project, a launch… so no outcome really messes me up. As one of my clients often says, “Just go with it”. So I flow.
Admitting that I truly don’t know nor do I have to know helps me to be truly honest with myself. This honesty flows out to friends and family, readers, clients, new acquaintances, etc. They can learn to trust me by knowing that when whatever happens, I will deal with it according to what is required when it does happen. This is a powerful message for building authentic relationships.
I don’t have to plan as much because not knowing helps me to realize that detailed plans are useless, and actually a waste of time. I am free to spend less time worrying and more time executing. I am no longer consumed by the horrible fear that I may be doing the wrong thing. I just diligently stay focused on doing the next basic right thing and trust the process.
Here are a few suggestions for embracing this journey:
- Admit that you don’t know. This is obviously the first step, but it’s hard because we often want to think we know, or at least that we can make certain things happen the way we want them to. We don’t control the future, we can’t know the future. And that is okay.
- Tune into the things that cause anxiety. When you start feeling anxious, and that is normal, look inward for the source of the anxiety. What are you hoping will happen that contributes to making you anxious? This awareness is the key to working through the emotions and adjusting to the reality. The thing that changes is the way we perceive it. Once we have a chance to consider a different perspective, we will warm up to the idea.
- Remind yourself you’ll be okay. Once you acknowledge a particular outcome you’re hoping for, tell yourself that you will be fine regardless of what happens. Life-and-death situations are possibly the only exception to this, and even in extremely difficult issues, eventually life resumes and we adjust.
- Consider worst-case scenarios. Consider the worst case scenario and let it play out in your mind. Once we’ve gone through the emotions in this process, we are more prepared to deal with things than we may think we would be. Honestly, you will eventually make the necessary adjustments and will be fine no matter what. Just be prepared to give it a little time.
- Know your principles. If you are not chained to a particular outcome or vision of the future, what are the principles you adhere to? Step back, reflect. What drives you? What do you believe you are most passionate to do or be? You may find the most fulfillment in helping others, extending compassion, enjoying doing work that you love, or building or creating things, etc.
- Let your principles, not goals or detailed plans, be what guides you. Once you have your guiding principles, let them guide you on a day-by-day basis, moment-to-moment. You don’t know how something will turn out when you act, but you do know whether this action is in line with your principles.
- Learn to relax in the journey. While the journey of not knowing isn’t easy, it can be liberating and transforming. You are in the midst of a turbulent sea, and are afloat without knowing where anything will go. In reality, this has always been the case, you just may not have viewed it through this particular lens. Focus on practicing how you can enjoy the journey. Take small steps. Gain the freedom of viewing the incredible place you are in and get familiar with the new surroundings. Then just relax and go with it.
The freedom of not knowing may become your journey to the best of life. Let it begin now… and Enjoy!
Sheri Geyer is a Christian Life Coach, Writer, Speaker, Wife & Mom