By VICTORIA SARNE
As humans we like to define our lives with certainty with predictability. We believe that if we know the answers we will survive. It is our nature or our natural instinct to want to feel safe and comfortable within our physical environment as well as our emotional life. We go to great lengths sometimes to build a framework and create a safe space, our own small world in the larger universe because most of us have a need to feel in control of our lives and certain of outcomes if we take a particular course of action. And we don’t seem to spend much time thinking about or preparing for the unexpected as best we can. But the truth is nothing much is certain in life except that it has a beginning and an end.
However, with the onslaught of the coronavirus, the world, not just our little niche, has been turned topsy-turvy because as yet, we have no clear-cut answers to any of our questions. Certainly there is a lot of noise out there eagerly picked up by the media, but still no unified opinion of what it is, how it started, what happens next or, more compellingly when it will end so that we can return to some semblance of what passes as a normal life: where we make our own choices about time usage, social interaction and liberty. The only certain thing at the moment is the uncertainty of it all because it isn’t just the physical constraints, there are a slew of other issues for everyone: retaining or losing our jobs, loss of income, adapting to working from home if we can and all the other restrictions which place an emotional burden on everyone. Where almost everything felt safe and solid previously, it now feels like a wobbly bowl of Jello.
This means we have to find different ways to cope and re-establish some equilibrium in our lives. In other words create some certainty in any small way we can on a daily basis. Small, steps which can enable us to adapt incrementally until we have more answers. The first step is probably the most difficult because it requires a reversal of our conventional thinking and it is to surrender to the experience, accepting that, for the time being, it is out of our control other than taking the precautionary health measures. This is really what I would call a leap of faith – we have to be hopeful and optimistic because “this too shall pass” and I believe this to be a rational approach to solving many of life’s problems not just this particular hot issue. The challenge is first of all to accept there is a problem and not fight the idea because you believe accepting it is frightening or if you deny it, it doesn’t really exist and secondly to ask what we can do to make things better or more comfortable for ourselves even if we can’t solve the whole thing.
Whilst we struggle with the idea that this pandemic is a unique situation and perhaps it is from some points of view, from another perspective there will always be other surprises or occurrences to upend our lives no matter how well we think we plan our paths. Through various happenings in my own life I came to the conclusion that the only way to make my life as emotionally and mentally comfortable as possible was to accept that as a human being I am in control of very little and that if I turned my thinking around and viewed some of the unforeseen pitfalls as opportunities for change rather than simply disasters it could be a challenge to test myself to find solutions. I’m not saying this is easy, but it is possible to take positive action mentally and wonderfully rewarding when you find out just how strong and resilient you really are. Doesn’t it make sense to create positivity and then action rather than negativity?
It has always made sense to me to understand and accept that life is frequently chaotic and sometimes we have to ride it like a rogue wave to survive. Over the years I have grown very comfortable with uncertainty, I have no fear of it because I have survived those other challenges. And it has a benefit because it has also given me the ability to appreciate deeply all the blessings in my life. Embrace the concept of uncertainty – it could be an adventure and go out and live your life.