The late Susan Jeffers wrote one of my favorite books – Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
What I liked so much about the way she thought was not only the way she distilled complex ideas in a simple way but she often had her own take, which differed from the mainstream.
This newsletter will show you what I mean. Some of these ideas might be considered controversial to some, a little outside of the self-help manual, yet when you live the journey you see how much sense they might make for you.
Ten Tips for Embracing Uncertainty
by Susan Jeffers, Ph.D.
There is no question that uncertainty…and worry…seem to have increased dramatically as we all try to cope with such concerns as mounting violence and the effects of the global economic crisis. Yet, there is no question that, with the right tools, all of us can rise above any situation that life hands us. Here are ten tools that might help you embrace uncertainty.
1. It’s All Happening Perfectly
Susan believed that, “No one knows the Grand Design, and the meaning and purpose of it all. To ease our minds and hearts we must embrace the thought that it is all happening perfectly.” This is a good affirmation to repeat throughout your day. It’s not always obvious at the moment what will come from what’s happening now. But trusting in this knowledge helps you to remain open and at ease rather than afraid. It reminds you that everything happens for a reason. If you are student of life you know that, whatever the results, you will find this to be true. Life conspires for your benefit. Keep this in mind and life will feel loving and much easier.
2. Use Procrastination
Sometimes it’s advisable to take a step back and think before you act. Procrastination can be a good tool to buy yourself some space. The answers to questions or problems are often found in your gut, not in your mind. When faced with a big decision especially, give yourself time to tune in and find the best answer. We are always in such a hurry, insisting on it now. You may not always be able to procrastinate, and it might not always be advisable, but listen to your heart to know if it’s appropriate. If you practice this enough, a moment to take a breath or two might be all you need to get in touch with your Higher self.
3. Collect Heroes
Find someone to emulate, and your path will become clearer. Other people’s inspiring stories keep you motivated and help you believe you can succeed. There are so many to pick from, and it’s so easy with the Internet these days to find out more about their lives. Susan suggested keeping a notebook of them along with what they gained from their experiences. She offered this thought about heroes, “If they can learn and grow from their experiences, I can certainly learn and grow from mine!” A collection of heroes gives you well-tested inspiration whenever it’s needed.
4. Be a Hedonist
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines hedonism as, “The doctrine that pleasure or happiness is the sole or chief good in life.” A wonderful thing to believe in! There’s not enough fun in this world. We all get so busy doing, doing, doing. Since there isn’t time to wallow in fun, you’ve got to do it with gusto and intention whenever you can. It feels good to fully enjoy yourself. All you have to do is choose it. Use the same determination you use to work, to have fun.
5. The Laughing Buddha
Sometimes a good laugh can change everything. The Laughing Buddha reminds you to allow the laugh to actively move through; to laugh with your whole body. The Laughing Buddha knows that, though life may seem chaotic, there is a Grand Design. You can make the world what you choose it to be. Funny movies and comedians awaken laughter, too. Try deliberately laughing, just for the sake of laughing. No matter what’s happening you can squeeze in a good laugh. Susan told us that, “Each time we behave like The Laughing Buddha, it shows us how to stay in the Highest part of who we are for longer and longer periods of time.”
6. Ask Wide Questions
This means asking questions with large answers like, “I wonder what will happen today?” Maybe it’s, “How can I be more loving?” “What might be motivating this person?” Questions with big answers that might not seem answerable leave room for a myriad of answers to come and open you up to a myriad of possibilities. Just tune in and listen for the answers!
7. The Power of Maybe
This, like the wide question, opens the possibilities for living and for learning. If you’re not sure all the time, you have what Buddhists call “beginner’s mind.” From this clean slate all things are possible. When you feel yourself being certain, take a step back and contemplate the world of “maybe”. All you have to do is add the word “maybe” to any statement of certainty such as, “I’ll love my new job … maybe” or “The president’s speech was right on … maybe.” This frees you from the bonds of certainty and allows many other pleasant scenarios to arise.
8. 50 Roses
Susan told a wonderful story of a friend who suggested her son buy 50 roses and give them to residents at a home for the elderly on Valentine’s Day. We can use the image without the actual roses. Giving an imaginary rose means giving love, doing something loving. This is a brilliant tool for finding ways to be more of service. Most of us want to give, but need a way to hold onto the intention. The image of giving 50 roses keeps you watching for ways to give them away. Susan said, “You will feel so good noticing the joy you bring to others that you will find enough roses to give away for the rest of your life.”
9. Scissors in the Mind
Here’s another imaginative game. Imagination is a marvelous tool that you can use at any time. The Scissors in the Mind is about imagining cutting the cord to whatever it is you’re holding onto. Often this is used to cut out the ties of expectation. It’s very simple. As soon as you notice yourself thinking the offending thought, close your eyes and imagine cutting the cord and the thought drifting out of your head. Susan suggested breathing a sigh of relief to help it on its way and prepare the mind for a new thought.
Our minds don’t always know the difference between fact and fiction. You can see this when watching a movie; the adventure or drama accelerates and you can feel it though you know you’re not really there. What if you believed you really mattered in the world? You can start any question with the phrase, “What if …” such as, “What if … I was really important in this situation?’ or “What if … there was someone perfect out there for me?” Your answers would begin with the words, “I would…” thereby providing you with an instant to-do list showing you how to act-as-if in uncertain or scary situations. Susan explained, “As we consciously and patiently use the game of ‘act-as-if,’ we ultimately live into the awesome understanding of just how large a difference we can truly make.”