How to Make Peace With Uncertainty

Leap into fear using these exercises.

January 6, 2016
leap fear
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The hero's journey begins with someone who has no idea she has an inner hero. The hero is just Jane Schmoe in the Ordinary World, doing her Jane Schmoe-ish thing, when suddenly there is a call to adventure. The hero initially refuses the call: "Hell no, I ain’t doing that!" But then, with reluctance, the hero accepts the Divine assignment.

As your embark on your journey to find your inner light and hero, it can feel like you're stepping into an adventure, leaving the known world and leaping into the unknown, which signals the hero's final separation from the Ordinary World and marks the hero's willingness to undergo metamorphosis. 

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Then the initiation begins. No hero gets it right on the first try. The Road of Trials consists of a series of tests and obstacles the hero must overcome, and along the way, the hero meets allies and enemies and begins to learn the rules of a world far different than the Ordinary World. Then the hero comes to the edge of a dangerous place—the headquarters of the enemy or the dark cave of the new world or a scary inner place where the reckoning must happen.

But when you are faced with this, don't turn back.

When the Pain of Staying Put Exceeds the Fear of the Unknown, Leap
Most heroes spend a lot of time refusing the call before they finally answer it, and that's perfectly okay. Readiness is crucial, and we're all on our own paths, journeying at our own speeds. You are valuable and worthy and perfect, wherever you are on your hero's journey. If you've heard the call and are still refusing it, don't beat yourself up. It's natural to resist taking scary leaps of faith. Be gentle and loving with yourself while you resist. But know that there will come a time when resisting the call creates more suffering than leaping. You will feel an impossible pull to answer the call, which may be met with an equally forceful draw to hang up the phone. You will know it's time to begin your journey when you must answer the call.

 

When that time comes, cave early. Don't delay what must happen. Close your eyes. Trust the unknown. Open yourself to receiving support. Leap into the mystery, and learn the truth about fear.

Hero's Practice: Make Peace with Uncertainty
Try this exercise from my book The Fear Cure. Like strengthening your biceps, changing your relationship with uncertainty requires exercise. Try a bench press for your uncertainty muscles. Push the limits of your comfort zone with activities loaded with built-in uncertainty.

Rejection Therapy. Do you fear the uncertainty of facing possible rejection? Set yourself up to get rejected. Entrepreneur and professional "fearbuster" Jia Jiang was afraid of rejection, so he challenged himself with 100 Days of Rejection, during which he asked for things he expected a no for. Put yourself in situations where you expect to get turned down. Notice that even when rejection happens, you can handle it. (Try the 21-Day Practicing Compassion Challenge to transform yourself and the people you touch with compassionate actions!)

Get Lost. Afraid of the uncertainty of an unplanned road trip? Challenge yourself to get in your car and just keep turning left. I once went on a first date with a guy who did this. We wound up eating frozen lemonade at a Little League baseball game among strangers before having to stop at a gas station to ask for directions back to where we came from. Be willing to experiment. Get adventurous. See where you end up. 

 

More: What to Do When You're Feeling Lost

Open Yourself to Failure. Afraid of not knowing whether or not you'll succeed? Put yourself in situations where your success is uncertain. Take a class to learn an obscure skill you've never tried. Be willing to put yourself out there and fail. Discover that you're not good at everything, and that this is okay. Laugh at your failures. Celebrate how brave you were for trying. Think about how much fun you will have if you go bowling when you don't know how to bowl. Imagine someone roller-skating for the first time. We don't expect children to be good at something the first time they do it, but somehow we expect this of ourselves. Try not to take yourself so seriously. Be willing to fail miserably—or not so miserably! Rather than fixating on mastery, learn to relish the excitement of trying something new. 

21-Day Practicing Compassion Challenge

Adapted from Anatomy of a Calling