Certainty & Uncertainty

All of us need certainty and uncertainty in our lives.The difficulty lies in balancing the two.

Certainty helps anchor our life. But If everything in life is certain, our life will be dull and boring.Like Bill Murray in this movie. Uncertainty keeps us active.Remember the first time you did something new or met someone? The uncertainty of the activity is thrilling. But too much uncertainty or certainty can drive us nuts.

So, the real question is “How do we balance these two opposing forces?”

We can balance it if we study the triggers they generate. Both certainty and uncertainty trigger a thought and consequently an emotion in all of us. If we are able to isolate the thoughts and emotions, half the battle is won.For me, certainty triggers either a Boring or a Peaceful state of mind while uncertainly brings Excitement and Anxiousness.All these states are necessary – but in small doses. An overpowering force of any of these states can disrupt our normal functioning.Let me share a technique that helps me stay balanced when I’m under the grip of anxiousness.The technique involves watching my thoughts.

Watching our thoughts takes conscious effort and we need to activate two roles inside our head. A Thinker and an Observer.The Thinker is the role that is creating the thought. In this case, a negative thought. The observerĀ  is the role that observes the Thinker and his thoughts. The process of activating these two roles takes a lot of practice and patience. Once you achieve this skill, you are ready to move to the next step.

The second step is to cut the flow of energy that feeds the negative thoughts. In other words, we need to silence the Thinker.To do this, I use physical movement.Do something. Anything. Massage your temples with your thumbs or get up from your seat. This will unsettle the thinker.After several repetitions, the action will stop the thinker immediately. It then becomes a reflex.

After you have successfully silenced the thinker, use the observer to divert the thinker’s energy elsewhere. In my case, I tell the thinker to remember any five things or people that I’m grateful for in this life.This diversion does the following two things :

i) It derails the negative train of thoughts

ii) Creates a new neural pathway of positive thoughts

Unless some serious calamity has struck our life, the above technique will change the mood instantly.The mood is affected by emotions and emotions follow thoughts. We cannot always control our emotions. In some situations, it is not advisable to control emotions. They may cause repressed feelings that can cause other problems. Instead, we can and should try to control our thoughts.

Next time you are anxious or nervous, I urge you to try this method. I’m certain that it will help you improve your mood if not the uncertainty that is creating the imbalance.

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