Living with uncertainty

by Jill Schroder

Our southern neighbour is in the throes of a vital election which affects almost everyone on the planet and has created a lot of uncertainty.  In addition it’s a hugely challenging time for many of us in Canada and elsewhere.  There are risks of disastrous losses, multiple concerns, and deep uncertainty about what lies ahead in almost any area you can choose to name –  the Covid pandemic, health care, the economy, recovery, inequality, racism, unemployment, retirement, the environment….  It seems that we are living with uncertainty all around us.

Living with uncertainty is something I have been struggling with for decades.  I have, sometimes desperately, wanted to know, fix, control, decide, affect, and/or effect the processes and outcomes. And yes, that has applied at times to people as well. It has been long, slow, and sometimes really painful mentally, psychically and physically (not to mention spiritually) to deepen my capacity for acceptance, to loosen my hold on the reins, and to soften my demands and expectations into accepting and embracing the unknown.

There is an important parenthesis here. Accepting does not mean condoning.   This is what a revered and wise Diamond Approach teacher counselled me long ago when acceptance of troubling environmental and social justice issues around the world seemed impossible and inappropriate). That was decades ago, and I have been working to accept, to acknowledge, to be with, and not to resist what IS, even as I don’t necessarily condone the circumstances, and even as I take what action I can to address the situation.

The journey to acceptance can be arduous indeed, yet it is one of that factors that stands us in good stead when it comes to living with uncertainty.  With acceptance comes relief, release of resistance, and the opportunity to make wise choices. (check out Johanna Macy’s notion of Active Hope:  How to Face the Mess that We’re in Without Going Crazy.

In a timely “coincidence” Rick Hanson, one of my heroes and a spiritual teacher cum neuropsychologist, offered this in Just One Thing (JOT)  teaching Take Heart.  He talks about what to do when the bottom falls out, i.e. when living in the face of uncertainty.  I found it very helpful, reassuring, and inspiring. Heart-opening, actually.  I hope you do too.


And then this Covid-inspired cartoon offers us another option – inviting us to ask for what we need as we live with uncertainty!  🙂



Here is another link you might find useful –  Is Goal Setting a Bane or a Boon?    I explored this question in a recent essay.  Goal setting is up for me these days.  In these times of uncertainty I found it useful to ask the questions of who is setting the goals and why?

Your comments and questions are most welcome.  We’re in this together.

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