The Graceful Way to Handle Uncertainty and ChallengesNone By Homaira Kabir
There's a way of viewing the world that’s black and white. And then there's a way that sees the world in all its brilliant colors.
We're wired for both. But the former is far quicker because it's been around much longer. It seeks out what’s bright and pleasurable. And it runs a mile from uncertainty and challenges because it can’t tolerate the pain of not knowing.
This wiring doesn’t always serve us well. The unknown is home to mystery. Pain introduces us to undiscovered strengths. And our challenges teach us more about life than many glorious moments combined. In their darkness, we make sense of our lives and expand our mental frameworks to hold on to more than one perspective at a time. From the deep chasm, we emerge transformed—even if not victorious, as a more hopeful, resilient, and adaptable self.
And yet we live in a world that anesthetizes pain and values certainty and rationality. We’re rewarded for successes, taught to revere outcomes, and seduced by the promise of little extras everywhere we turn.
The ability to stay open through pain, confusion, challenges, and uncertainty without succumbing to the urge to escape is an art that’s being lost on us.
I’ve found that cultivating grace—a quality that neuropsychologist Rick Hanson calls “equanimity”—is what allows us to do so. Unlike calm, which results from the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, equanimity is a spaciousness where we gracefully hold space for the fear centers of the amygdala, while staying grounded in the farsighted wisdom of the higher cortex. And it’s in this space that magic begins to happen.
The next time things don’t go your way, take these 5 steps to help you gracefully forge your way forward.
Know Your Ideal Version
Many of us scramble for control when life catches us off guard. Sometimes we react in ways that don’t make us proud, and sometimes we try to control what’s best left alone. What’s more, we turn away from the possibilities that may have unfolded had we sat through the momentary upheaval. Have clarity of what your ideal version looks like, and you’ll find it easier to respond with emotional agility rather than fall prey to an emotional hijack.
Shorten Your Recovery Time
Golfer Jack Nicklaus coined the phrase "playing badly well" when talking about getting out of a bad shot without ending up with a double or triple bogie. Golfers or not, we all hit bad shots when we impulsively