How many memes have you read or seen along the lines of ‘embracing the unknown’, and ‘accepting uncertainty’ as a part of life?
I know for me it would be have been thousands of times by now. This has been upped exponentially in recent times, with the pandemic crisis triggering all those articles, whatsapp’s forwards and posts about ‘living with the unknown’ and doing so with grace.
Insecurity gets a much less positive press. In fact, now I think about it, I’ve never read, heard or seen anything positive said about feeling or being insecure.
Insecurity conjures up adolescent memories of feeling lesser (or just crap); and adult shudders in the nervous system, usually tied to finance, what we look like, our status and what others think of us.
Uncertainty and acceptance of uncertainty comes with a positive, highbrow glow, especially in the realms of philosophy, spirituality and literature. Those who can truly live with uncertainty are enlightened.
Insecurity however is something to nail, change, work on or develop, and it sits in those one step lower domains of psychology, personality and economics.
This difference has helped me realise why, for all my ‘spiritual and philosophical’ leanings, I have yet felt inwardly shaken by the local, national and global impact of the spread of the corona virus.
It’s hard to find the words for the feeling I have internally, even as I write this. It’s something of a mix of mild butterflies and a chain of little moments of shortened intakes of breath. It’s also showing itself in changed sleep patterns and energy levels.
As someone who loves philosophy and feels she has a spiritual life together with the every day material one, I have come to appreciate that uncertainty is a part of life.
I use the word ‘appreciate’ deliberately here. Realising we can plan and build all we like and yet cannot ultimately fully control what happens around us.
I have, so far over the course of 45 years, led a life that has twisted and turned and often not according to a plan even though I’m of a personality that does plan, build and create. I’ve come to appreciate that my energy needs to collide and collaborate in a certain way with another’s energy (person or cause or thing) for things to happen in the way I wish it to. We cannot control that ‘other energy’ as it’s not ours’.
I appreciate uncertainty not because this takes responsibility out of my hands, but it helps me feel connected to something bigger than myself –even if that comes with feelings of discomfort, difficulty and yes, sometimes tragedy.
So as a fully-up paid member of the Uncertainty Club, why the constant background of butterflies-meets-random-shortness of breath in my inner landscape?
Yes, people are dying and more will. Countries’ economies are going to be battered and for a while to come. People will lose jobs, and experience hardship. Big questions will take ages to answer, just like finding a vaccine will.
But these, for me, fall in the Uncertainty basket.
Insecurity, however… that’s personal.
I’m wondering if I should even go there in this blog post, because it’s so personal.
What shakes, moves and affects our breathing at the cellular, non-thinking level is so individualistic and a reflection of all the times – big and small – that we have felt lesser or scared or inferior in our life.
To share with you what might be contributing to my feelings of insecurity now would be… well, a novel with several follow-ups!
So where I’m going with this is… is that I think it might help to know that what you might experiencing right now on the inside is not just a reflection of what is happening in the world outside.
I think also it’s possible to be philosophical and accepting of life’s ebbs and flows, and this huge wave called the virus spread – and yet feel some quite deep shakings at a core level of being.
Coming to a place of respecting uncertainty in our life and world is definitely a good thing to do if you can. This cannot be rushed or willed. This can be done only over time, through reading, study, and spiritual practices, such as yoga and meditation. And through having gone through some tough situations. Also through spending time with people who are wiser than us and have had more lived-experience.
Learning to live with uncertainty though might not, I would venture to express here, shield you from insecurity.
But that’s ok.
For what is being human, if we don’t feel the feels, especially at a time like this?
But what to do with these feelings of insecurity?
Well, like thoughts, once you have the feeling it’s too late to eradicate it, it’s there and having its expression.
However, also like thoughts, we can treat our feelings, such as those of deep inner insecurity, as states to be with, rather than squash down, ignore or suppress.
Insecurity is generally a really uncomfortable feeling and is more of a longer-lingering state, than say having fear of something literally about to happen. Having a long bath, taking a walk, eating well are all self-care recommendations, but, in my experience, these kinds of things do not settle insecurity.
So instead, I take the approach – as I’m doing presently in this very uncertain time we are in – of allowing insecurity to sit with me, even while do I do my self-care.
I will go for a walk this afternoon, and that butterfly—random-shortness-of-breath might cede into the background or quieten – but it will be there.
For my yoga practice this morning, it was great to work on my breathing and stretch out the tissues of my body. But insecurity crept up, in moments here and there.
As I sit on a bench in the sun, my forehead of tension melts and I feel glorious for a while. Together with insecurity.
Perhaps you have found your tools for dealing with fear of the unknown and shaken foundations; be that in your home, work, family or personal life. If you have such tools, DO use them now and routinely and consciously.
I have some tools that are really coming into their own these past couple of weeks. I must remember to keep using them. Such as, dedicating at least half an hour a day to quiet and contemplation – no screens, no outer distractions.
But I know also, when it comes to insecurity, my best tool is to let it be. And let the insecurity join the rest of whatever is going on in my day.
Wishing you Well,