The Wisdom of Uncertainty

Uncertainty is a difficult thing for many of us. Nevertheless, there can be wisdom in uncertainty if we allow ourselves to accept that many things are out of our control. Likewise, if we are able to work toward greater acceptance of uncertainty, we might find greater possibilities as we take on new challenges.  

Beginner’s mind is a useful way to practice changing our relationship to uncertainty. It involves letting go of our expectations and preconceived ideas about something and looking at things with a fresh mind, just like a beginner. This can be a difficult practice. Nevertheless, if we can learn to tolerate and accept uncertainty, we can begin to see the wisdom in not knowing or having all of the answers.    

The following strategies are helpful for cultivating beginner’s mind:

Assume a stance of beginner when you enter a conversation. Rather than rushing to express your opinion or highlight your expertise, ask questions and express curiosity.

Change your typical routine or route to the office or store and take note of your new environment.  

Practice noticing your habits and be curious about why you do the things you do. Ask yourself, why do I do this every morning? How could I do this differently?

Attend to the automatic narrative in your head. Step back from judgements about what is right or wrong or what you should or should not being doing. Ask yourself, where do these ideas come from?

Try a new activity that you have not done before. Practice tolerating any anxiety that may arise from stepping outside of your comfort zone.

Spend time with people different from yourself and be curious about their experiences and perspectives.

Explore something that often goes unnoticed. For example, you might slow down and notice the full taste, texture, and color of an apple as you eat it.

Experiment with a new type of cooking or try a new food. 

Emulate the wonder of children. 

We can also extend the wisdom of uncertainty to our future expectations. We often become fixated on achieving a particular outcome or using a particular approach to solve a problem. This can hinder our creativity and cause increased stress as we work hard to stick to our plans. Try letting go of your attachments to particular outcomes or opinions about how things should be done and observe if this allows for more room in your thinking and less stress as you navigate challenges. 

Dr. Thomas Lindquist, Psy.D.

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Visit us at lindquistpsych.com

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Published by tlindquistpsyd

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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