Taking Uncertainty on a Date
Embracing the Unknown to Master your Life
When I drink my coffee in the morning, I have a Tiny Habit® of listening to a book on my Blinkist app. This week one that really resonated was by Maria Konnikova’s book, The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win.
With a PhD in social psychology, she wanted to better understand the line between skill and luck. In studying and applying the mindset of champion poker players, she wound up becoming a poker legend herself. She simply took the lessons she learned about human nature to master the sport and herself.
In Texas Holdem poker there is a certain amount of known information, but also a fair amount of uncertainty. If you don’t master uncertainty, there’s no way you’ll go far in the game.
By asking the right questions she figured out how to master her mind by focusing on the amount of information she did have, the amount of control she had, and mastering being okay with the uncertainty.
This may be poker talk, but also... real talk.
You have to master your uncertainty in life.
I know you’re thinking, “Andy, what does that even mean?”
A friend of mine put it this way,
“If everyone made peace with uncertainty, the world would be a better place.”
I don’t know if it’s the surge of uncertainty circling the recent US election or if it’s just me coming to terms with the amount of control I have over my tiny bubble of the world, but uncertainty is the theme.
Perhaps you’re feeling it too?
What if you took Uncertainty out for a date?
Yes you’d rather be cozied up with the hot jock Joy or the eternally glamorous Happiness. Heck even plain ol’ Contentment would make a better date. All of them are so much more attractive and appealing than anxious Uncertainty.
What if on your date with Uncertainty, just for that time, you fully accepted it for what it was and tried to have a good time?
That may initially feel impossible. After all, you may like to know what type of food you’re going to eat or how to dress appropriately. If you’re going hiking you wouldn’t want to wear your dancing shoes and a fancy dress. Neither would I!
Uncertainty can feel like the awkward date that doesn’t respond to the typical rote banter. Dating Uncertainty can make you feel anxious and vulnerable worrying about discomfort and embarrassment. At this point, I bet you’re grateful you’re not on a date with Anxiety, Guilt or Shame!
BUT…another side of Uncertainty is excitement, serendipity and surprise.
The date could end up looking like a fantastic adventure! You expect dinner and a movie and end up being swept off your feet with a luxury tour and spectacular sunset views. Like a new romance, not knowing what to expect and being pleasantly surprised by your new lovers moves.
What if instead of focusing on what you didn’t like, you focused on all the potential the unknown of Uncertainty offered your life?
After all, if you already know everything that is going to happen boredom sets in. There’s no room for an unexpectedly pleasant surprise!
Picture yourself showing up for this date with no plans. You’re going to wing it and see where the wind takes you. (OMG! I haven’t done that in ages.)
Over-planning and preparing could be part of what is keeping you feeling cooped up and unsettled in your life. (Well, if you're reading this in 2020, quarantine's probably doing that, too!)
You might discover, like Maria Konnikova, that you can focus on what you do know and be OK with the few pieces you don’t know. You may even realize you have a bigger capacity for Uncertainty than you knew.
Like in my post, Are You Stuck Circling & Never Landing, It takes on a new viewpoint when you change direction.
Most of us struggle with uncertainty in our lives because it leaves us vulnerable.
It is in our nature to seek security. There is actually a part of our brain that scans for danger. It seeks safety and has a very low tolerance for the unknown. It wants us to nail down all the details before stepping forward. It doesn't want us to take risks and be vulnerable.
But life doesn’t work that way.
And we all know that the real fruit of life is out on the limbs, yet it’s so hard to remember to be vulnerable, let go and go for it.
And as any Brené Brown student will tell you . . .
vulnerability is the gateway to joy
And who couldn't use a bit more joy?! (I know I could!)
The more you expand your capacity for uncertainty and make peace with the unknown, the more open you become to seeing the blessings that come your way and the more you will experience the expansive emotions of peace, happiness, and joy.
As you go through the week begin to actively pay attention to any uncertainties that have you on high alert. Even write them down if it helps you.
Then take that thought on a date of endless potential. Instead of staying centered around the doom your mind just went to, try dancing with it. See what kind of moves it can show you. You can even create a Pearl Habit like this: Every time I feel uncertain, I will take three deep breaths and celebrate with a smile.
Notice any places that you have opened up to because of your new dance with uncertainty. How has looking at it differently changed you?
Let me know how it’s working in your life, or any guidance I might offer to help enhance you even further towards a more aligned center of mastery in your own life.