3 Strengths That Help You Navigate Change and UncertaintyNone By Homaira Kabir
We're told that we live in dark times—and it's not difficult to buy into that narrative. I, for one, feel an underlying angst from the uncertainty, volatility, and change I see around me. And I know I'm not the only one.
But here's what I remind myself: Dark times hold the promise of bringing out the best in us. Our common history is marked by many grim times that forced our predecessors to rise to the unprecedented challenges before them and, in the process, advance human development.
But we're not quite done. The greed, the impulsiveness, the unpredictable despondency, and the sparks of sheer genius that mark our age have made many of us wonder whether we're going through the adolescence of our species. We see it in the brilliance that has connected billions of us across our planet. We see it too in our recklessness as we rummage through our planet's depleting resources despite an awareness of the consequences.
So it's time to grow up. The challenges we face are calling us to develop inner qualities that will help us adapt to changing times, develop our resilience muscle, and in the process, become the adults the world is waiting for.
Strength #1: Vision
A vision gives us an ideal to strive for. In challenging times, it also strengthens us with hope. Research shows that hopeful individuals and teams have greater motivation, persistence, and creativity because they can withstand the emotional pressure to turn away from pain or uncertainty. A vision helps us sit with confusion and ambivalence, while our minds connect the dots and look for creative solutions that keep us moving in the right direction. So what's your vision? It may be a cleaner environment or a more equitable world. Or it may be something closer to home, within your family or the organization you work in. What's the vision that will keep you striving despite the struggles and the uncertainty you may be facing?
Strength #2: Humility
Humility is a form of acceptance—the acceptance of not knowing. And although we struggle with this in our need for certainty and control, Professor Ellen Langer's research on mindfulness shows that not knowing profoundly benefits our health and well-being. Unlike modesty, where we know that we know but restrain from flaunting our knowledge, humility opens us up to other perspectives, to other ways of making meaning, and thus to the light that complements every darkness. It keeps us growing, it keeps us hungry for knowledge—and in our changing times, it keeps us open to the opportunities that surround us, even when things don't seem to go our way. Where in your life are you striving for control, and how can the humility of not knowing benefit you?
Strength #3: Connection
The importance of others cannot be overstated in challenging times, because our instinctive tendencies push us toward the opposite. We're wired to close down in shame when we struggle. We're wired to unite in smaller and more competitive tribes of "us" versus "them" when we feel threatened. We see it both in our politics and in our personal lives, which are increasingly becoming dependent on virtual friends and online forums. Yet research shows that human connection is one of our most basic needs. A smile, a touch, or someone who listens and understands can regulate the sympathetic nervous system, return us to a state of calm, and ignite our own compassion, so we can extend it to others.
Who is in your circle of support? And who is in your circle of influence—people beyond your immediate tribe who can help you grow your compassion muscle?
These uncertain and rapidly changing times remind us that we're going through a rebirth, as we leave behind the emotional spark of adolescence and enter the age of consciousness as wise, humble, and compassionate adults. We are the ones we'll need to unfold the infinite possibilities ahead.
Homaira Kabir is a positive psychology coach and cognitive behavioral therapist. She offers courses and coaching to help women develop the self-confidence and inner strength to identify and achieve their biggest and boldest goals. You can take her free quiz on learning to grow authentic self-worth at her website.
You May Also Like: