Leaving Certainty Behind
by Peggy Hammes
“Who are you?” said the Caterpillar.
“I hardly know, Sir, just at present,” Alice replied rather shyly, “atleast I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must havechanged several times since then.”
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
There comes a time in all of our lives when we are poised onthe edge of the unknown, when some aspect of our life is no longer a fit. Wesense it is time for a change, but we aren’t sure what we want to bedifferent—or even if we are willing to change to make it so.
It’s a time when doing the same thing you have always done—orinsisting that everything is okay when nothing is satisfying you anymore—beginsto feel like the definition of insanity. To be “up in the air” isendurable if it’s part of a movement toward a desired end. If it doesn’tfeel related to some larger and beneficial pattern, it just simply feels distressing.
Nothing can change, however, until you are able to admit that something isnot working. Transition times are often key to the natural process of self-renewal.However, the very nature of change is “not knowing” and you willprobably have to get comfortable there. It means occupying a place of “Idon’t know,” which, for years, was a place I refused to let myselftake up residence in. Being able to say, “I’m undergoing some sortof change that is outside of my ability to understand” can grant dignity,meaning, and grace to this disorienting time.
Times of transition require a practice of listening, and it is best to listendaily. Recognize that you are uncomfortable—knowing why is not alwaysnecessary. Set aside time to be without distractions so you can gently createspace for the next step to reveal itself.
When something does call to you, don’t rush into it. Take your time.Check it out with trusted friends and mentors or coaches. Ground it in facts.Ask important questions. Explore the other side of the change. Process yourthoughts. Set up temporary structures for yourself in order to create feelingsof safety while you transition.
During my difficult time, I wanted to know what most of us want to know—thatit will it turn out okay. And it will. That doesn’t mean I will geteverything I want, or even that it will transpire the way I want it to, orthat I will never wonder about my life’s direction again. It only meansthat I will continue to take time to delve into the ideas and directionsthat come to me.
It isn’t about knowing where you are going, but rather about showingup in the moment, over and over again—to do the best you can right now.If you can do that, you can adapt, you can learn, you can discern meaning,and, yes—you can be well.
Peggy Hammes, M.S., is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Imago Certified RelationshipTherapist, and Teacher of Wisdom. Questions can be addressed to
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