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uncertainty

February 14, 2023

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fellow travelers,

today I’m talking about uncertainty.

here’s the takeaway: you resolve uncertainty through action.

uncertainty comes up a lot with my clients, typically around committed relationships or marriages: “should i stay?”, “should I go?”, etc… and that’s just one example.

of course, the very nature of life is uncertain, so it’s common to find ourselves without a clear path forward in most areas of our life…most days.

in contrast to action is thinking.  

thinking, of course, is something we do all the time, especially when we find ourselves in an uncertain situation. what can happen here is our thinking about our uncertain situation creates thinking about our uncertainty, which creates more uncertainty, and we end up getting caught in a snowball cycle of overthinking about our uncertainty. in other words, analysis paralysis. it’s easy to become stuck in our own uncertainty.

so what are we to do with all this uncertainty?

TAKE ALIGNED ACTION

one caveat to this approach is you can’t take any action, it must be aligned action.

aligned action is any action in the services of your underlying values. for example, if you value family, you might choose to call your brother. that’s an aligned action.

if the action is not aligned with an underlying value it becomes avoidance – like drinking 10 beers – and avoidance is not a recommended strategy for dealing with uncertainty.

aligned action allows us to shift the emphasis away from thinking to doing, and it’s through doing that we begin to understand and make new meaning in our circumstances. this is ultimately how we learn – by doing. this is also how we become clearer about our situation and how we develop discernment, the opposite of uncertainty.

i will also highlight the size of your aligned action doesn’t matter because the size of the moment is always the same.

for example, if you value “connection”, you can give your partner a note that says “i love you” or a brand new car, and she will experience a sense of connection just the same. in that moment, connection is connection, regardless of the size of the action associated it with it.

so here is a nice trick: if you find yourself unwilling to take an aligned action, just make your action smaller!

so if you are currently dealing with uncertainty following these 3 steps:

1) determine what your personal value are

2) take action in that direction

3) repeat

Overtime your aligned actions will help develop more clarity and resolve your uncertainty.

Let me know if you have questions. And good luck!

donald

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  1. Hi Donald. I am often accused of action bias, which I take to be avoiding something or perhaps some feeling. And this article makes me think of that. I suppose you are recommending aligned action as opposed to just action, and that leads me back to my purpose and my values. My purpose in staying with Barbara is to show up in our marriage as a worthy partner for her and my family, whilst honouring myself and upholding my values of vitality, humility, honesty and kindness. A way to go then!

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