Being With the Unknown

What happens when we don’t “know” what is going to happen? When something is lurking over us, weighing on us, causing us to feel fear and anxiety? We try our hardest to find that place of knowing, of feeling satisfied that everything is going to be ok, of looking for a solution to calm down our minds. But what if there is no way to know?

The fact of the matter is, there isn’t. That’s the curse and beauty of life.

It’s all about how you look at it. Some of the most beautiful creations come out of the Unknown. Some of the most terrifying moments do, too. Though it may be hard to believe at times, it’s up to you how you want to approach it and what you want to create from the situation. So much easier said than done.

I get wrapped up in this, too. But I have been curious about this lately, so I wanted to explore it further.

What exactly causes this feeling of terror, anxiety, fear, anticipation?

It’s the combination of not being fully present to the present moment, and of viewing the Unknown as a dark pit of negative possibilities. You imagine everything going wrong and you imagine you cannot handle whatever happens. You lose all sense of control (which is an illusion anyway), and your sense of security is rocked or broken. Your desire to “know” is just a frantic attempt to find that security again. But because you are not living in the present moment (you are living in the fear of the future), you do not have access to your strength or innate resources and are swept away by fear.

The worst part about the Unknown, the kind that we are so most afraid of, is the kind where it is close enough where we will have to deal with it soon, but far away off that we don’t have enough information or know what to do about it. We feel paralyzed by inaction. It’s that time gap between our awareness that we do not know what the outcome will be, and the revelation of the outcome. The Waiting Zone. That is when fear has time to step in and do its dirty work.

So how do you deal?

Here’s the funny thing: You are already dealing with it every moment of your life. Every moment of your life is unknown. Ha!

You don’t “know” what you are going to be doing a day from now, or even a minute from now. You may have a plan or a guess, but then something can happen that throws you off. And what do you do? You deal with it, in that moment, the best you can. And life moves forward. In the spur of the moment, if something is thrown our way, we just deal, because that is all we can do. But faced with an unknown that is a bit farther off than the present moment, we get wrapped up in the anticipation of something approaching, and often freeze or freak out.

What is different about these situations is not just the timeframe, but your focus and presence. When you are faced with an immediate unknown, you are already in the present moment, and you have access to your inner resources, and so you handle it. This shows that you can handle the unknown, that you have been doing it all your life. When you are future-tripping (focused on what can go wrong in the future), you are not present. You are not connected to your strength, to your Source or God, or to your best self.

I get this image, of a person hanging on the edge of a cliff, thousands of feet above the ground. One slip, and you’re done. Total fear, all alone. But what if this person is really on a movie set, where there is a bluescreen, and they are really only suspended a foot above the ground – not a big fall at all. But let’s say they are so wrapped up in the scene, they forget that. They really think they are on the cliff.

This is how the fear of the Unknown can be for some of us. We feel like it’s this huge drop into nothingness that can totally destroy us, when if we took a look around, we might see a gentle way to step out of it, or tons of people waiting to lend a helping hand.

It’s about letting go of the fear, and trusting that you can handle whatever comes your way.

You have the choice to view the Unknown as negative and potentially destructive, or as positive and imagine what beautiful creations can come out of it. Or you can view it as neutral and deal with it when it arrives. Again, easier said than done. We are creatures of habit and most of us are not in the habit of seeing the Unknown as a potent creative source, or as neutral.

A way to ease into this is to build the muscle step by step. Next time you are faced with the Unknown and are freaked out by it, ask yourself: What am I so scared of? And then, What is the possible good in this? And then, What inner resources can I use to handle it?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you deal with the Unknown? Are you scared by it or not and why? Do you jump right into it, avoid it, or not pay attention to it? What works for you?