Uncertainty and the Meaning You Give It

Apr 14, 2021

Roses in front of blue sky
Roses in front of blue sky
Roses in front of blue sky

There is a shared understanding that it isn’t good to be uncertain. If someone expresses they’re uncertain, it’s seen as something to fix or change. I notice it’s often an unconscious reaction, so I want to intentionally bring it forward and explore it. 

The first thing that comes to mind is that while it might be a mutually shared view that uncertainty isn’t a good place to be, we likely all have slightly varied versions of what uncertainty means to us. There are stories and perceptions that shape what we each think about uncertainty. From there, we tend to assign judgement on the state of being uncertain. 

If we flip this on its head and think about what could be beneficial about being uncertain, here are some things that come to mind: uncertainty is where we can often access possibility. It’s not rigid, and can be quite flexible. We’re trying on different things, looking at things from different angles. 

If uncertainty gives us possibility and flexibility, then I might be more open to answering questions like: 

  • What can I accept?

  • What is possible? 

  • What is true?

The question of “What is true?” stands out for me. It seems like this helps us root out what is our story and what is fact. It helps show us where we can pursue possibility or invite in flexibility. Wherever we are creating a story, we can start to see other stories we can write. 

Uncertainty in the body

I also have a theory that uncertainty is an important part of the ecosystem in our body—it’s a valuable state to be in. I don’t think we’re built to be certain all the time. If we were, then we might end up having tunnel vision.

It seems like being uncertain helps fire up different parts of our bodies and wakes up more of our brains. It helps wake up the creative pieces of ourselves. 

In a way, it’s almost like uncertainty keeps the system running, and running in a really connected way. If we were certain all the time, it would start to shut down a lot of the parts of the operation—the creative, flexible ones. If we’re certain for too long, those parts start to go dark. 

So maybe uncertainty is this key ingredient—a useful state—for our whole body to experience. There could be a very good reason for having it in our lives. 

The journey with uncertainty

Once we do find certainty again

A place to pass through 

Uncertainty to certainty to uncertainty again

 Like a subway stop at certainty

It feels so much better than it ever feels to try to be certain

To try to always know

That clear, resonant, resounding yes we arrive at after moving through this processIs one of the best parts of the human experience

We can’t skip the process, it’s there for a reason.

How would you rewrite your story about uncertainty?

My story I’m choosing for now is:

Uncertainty is a helpful state that supports my holistic system. It’s a place of options, of possibility, a place where I can learn. It’s where I don’t shut doors before they’ve even opened. It’s a place in the process where I’m meant to be and I trust I’ll find the clear, resonant direction or answer when it’s time. I’ll enjoy that, embody it, and then I’ll likely start the process of finding my way back to uncertainty again. 

What would you write for your story? 

A note on delight

As I was exploring my thoughts on uncertainty, my mind naturally went to the experience of enjoying a magic trick. When someone is doing magic, you usually don’t know what to expect. You’re uncertain, maybe a little nervous, possibly even excited. The process and (especially) the end reveal are where you feel delight. 

You can get so much joy out of things that are uncertain. Don’t we all want a little more delight in our lives? Perhaps you don’t need to get rid of anything to make that happen—you can work with what you already have.