If you're at all human then chances are you've felt the fear of the unknown. We feel uncomfortable there. Why? Because biologically we are wired to feel that way. Our brain was designed to protect us from danger and help us survive. When something is unknown then it has the potential to be dangerous because it's UNFAMILIAR. We learned in Arrow Tip #4 that the brain likes the familiar for this very reason. Predictability is safer. But, EVERYTHING that's come into your life was once an UNKNOWN to you. Not just things you label as "negative", but EVERY GREAT thing as well!
Think about this. Each and every new moment is actually unknown. In fact, the only KNOWN thing is this very second. There. You just experienced it. And now this second, and this second and this second. Get what I mean? Because even 3 seconds from this very moment is unknown. You might think it's not because it's based on a predictable past and a plan for the future. But actually, 3 seconds from now ANYTHING could happen. We KNOW this. Life can change in an instant. I know it's not likely to be a monumental change because things tend to basically stay the same unless something interrupts the pattern forcing it to change. However, once you accept that every moment is unknown because it carries the potential for a different outcome, you'll realize that you're more than able to handle it. You've been handling unknowns every moment of your life all along.
Now, I know that may not be of great comfort to some people. Because there are what we might consider "inconsequential" unknowns and "life-changing" unknowns. But, here's the thing I want you to consider. When you're standing in the midst of a big unknown outcome, that's the greatest place to be, because that's where you have an infinite number of possibilities for an even greater future. While your survival brain might be telling you "Oh NO, you better watch out! This could be bad!", the real truth is that it could be amazing! This is where you have to take control of your own thoughts by telling your brain that YOU are in charge and give it some new direction.
Loads of people say that they want something to change regarding a specific situation, but they're too afraid to stand in the "sea of the unknown". So, they keep thinking the same thoughts leading to the same feelings and behaviors that create the same results. Although they may want something new, they can't get there because the brain would rather stay in what's familiar than what's unknown. So, how can you get something better if you remain standing in the "sea of sameness"? It's not going to happen. You will have to venture out into the unknown to get something different in life. This is more easily done when you recognize that you have always been doing it anyway. Each new moment was once an unknown. Remember that.
"Sometimes you have to let go of GOOD to get GREAT"
Sometimes change is forced upon us. What if you're actually happy with the way things are? And then some "unknown" just pushes its way into your world? Then what? That's what the pandemic has done. Things were one way and then everything became an unknown.
When change comes and you weren't looking for it, you don't have to be afraid. Instead, remember that things are always changing. That's the natural flow of life. YOU are changing too! So, you can choose to change for the better when a new change is forced upon you. You do this by REFRAMING things and telling your brain what to do rather than reacting with fear and worry. Remember, it's just doing what it thinks you want it to do by trying to protect you and keep you safe. Give it new instructions.
Let me tell you what I did and am still doing during this pandemic.
March, 2020. My state shuts down. Eventually, the world shuts down. Like most people, I suddenly had no business coming in. No income. A family member in the ICU with COVID. EVERYTHING IS UNKNOWN. I don't need to explain this to you. We've all felt it in our own ways. I was afraid. I was worried. Once again, as I typically do when I realize I need to become the master of my own mind before it gets out of control, I made a conscious decision. I decided (it was a choice) that the unknown was the best place for me to be. Because ALL new and great things come from this space. I told myself (telling my brain) that no matter what happens, I will focus on the things that I do have control over.....my thoughts and attitude. Rather than allowing thoughts of fear and worry to overcome my mind, I plugged in the thought that "No matter what things look like right now, this situation is going to have a lot of benefit for me in the end." I made more thoughts like this and repeated them to myself like mantras. I saturated my mind with them. Anytime, worry or fear would rear its head I would say "thanks for showing up but in the end, this is going to benefit me". I had to tell my brain what to do. I also had to remind it that every time I didn't know what was going to happen or how things were going to work out in the past, "I have ALWAYS made it through. I'm ok. Everything is ok. I don't have to be afraid. I'm safe in this unknown space" and so on. I came up with a list of ways that things could possibly even get better for me than they were before. Rather than imagining the worst possible outcomes, I imagined the best. You have to do the same. Your brain is trying to do its job for you by protecting you and you have to give it direction. You do that by remembering that you've made it through every "unknown" you have ever been through. You do it by telling it you're safe in the unknown. You do it by feeding it new thoughts and make these new thoughts familiar. Chances are your brain finds comfort in the fear-based thoughts because you have made those so familiar.
Regarding the pandemic, while things are not back to our previous normal, I can tell you that from March 2020 up to today, my brain actively looks for all the ways this past year has benefitted me; because that's what I told it to do. And there's been an abundance of ways my life is better now than it was before the pandemic. I didn't stress out. I didn't needlessly dwell on worrying thoughts about stuff I couldn't control. I just focused on what I did have control over...the inner world of my own thoughts.... and then my brain went to work looking for evidence in my outer world to validate those assumptions. It's REALLY good at finding evidence. (More on this topic of finding evidence in a future post.)
We don't like the unknown because we don't like the uncertainty. It's uncomfortable for the reasons previously stated. But here is something that you CAN be certain of. What you choose to think about. How you choose to react. How you choose to act. And the biggest thing of all....how you choose to feel in any given moment. Yes, that is a choice. It takes practice and it takes intention, but it is under your control. Find certainty in the only place that it really truly exists. In your inner world. Let that comfort you. That's what will allow you to find more comfort in the unknown outer world.
When you're afraid because you "don't know what's going to happen"......
Remember that every moment is an unknown. This moment is no different from any other.
Recognize that standing in the space of an unknown outcome really means that you are now standing in a place with infinite possibilities at your disposal. That's the best place to be!
Remember that the brain tries to protect you, so feeling uncomfortable with the unknown is normal.
Give your mind new instructions by feeding it empowering thoughts rather than fear-based thoughts.
~"Everything is working out to my benefit."
~"Every day I get more comfortable with the unknown because that's where better
outcomes exist for me."
~"I'm going to come out of this better than before."
~"I don't have to know exactly what's going to happen in order to feel peace in
5. When your mind dwells on worst-case scenarios, replace them with possible best-case scenarios.
6. When fear or worry arises just remind yourself you don't need to go there because all things are working out to your benefit.
7. Find comfort in the things you can be certain of....how you think, feel, act and react.
*Remember: YOU ARE UNSTOPPABLE!