So, will lockdown end on December 2nd? Will we be able to have a normal Christmas? Is it okay to book a holiday for next year? Do I need to go out and stock the house with all the products that we might need if all the shops run out of everything? Will my job be safe after the furlough ends?…. The list of anxious questions goes on forever. The bottom line is that nothing is certain. We are in the land of uncertainty. My teacher once said to me…
…enlightenment is living with total uncertainty and being totally secure.
Now that is a thought. In reality all of the world alway is and always will be completely uncertain. None of us know what tomorrow will bring. We can not be sure of anything moment to moment. The human mind seeks positive and affirmative things as anchors to create security that in the end is an illusion. Sadly certainty seldom happens and this leads us to feelings of anxiety and in the extreme anxiety disorder. Uncertainty is always a form of anxiety. Anxiety is living an imagined future right now in the present moment. To be anxious is to not live in the present. Anxiety and uncertainty are bed fellows. Even the most focussed and determined of people can never be 100% sure of the outcome of life or their endeavours. Yet, we are not all anxious why is this?
I recall reading a study of men being kept on death row somewhere in the USA. The research showed that while under the threat of execution the inmates would produce high levels of stress hormones and feel high levels of anxiety. However, once they had been given a death date, even if it was a while in advance, their production of stress hormone would drop. The conclusion of the study was that uncertainty creates stress and anxiety but knowledge, knowing what will be happening, even if it is awful, takes away the stress. It would seem that certainty, even is we are certain of difficult outcomes is less stressful that simply not knowing. And, guess what?, in lockdown and with Covid we simply do not know.
Whatever will be, will be – the path of acceptance
There is another way of approaching the future and that is in accepting that whatever will be, will be. There are things that we can change and things that we can not. It is helpful to know the difference. Though in knowing we need to let it go and live in the present.
Is the state of calmness where there is peace and untroubled thoughts or feelings is what we call serenity.
According to Wikipedia the Serenity Prayer was authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr 1892–1971 The best-known form is:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
In the 1930s and 1940s the above prayer was adopted and popularised by Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs. The original prayer requires some belief in a religious Godliness and looked more like this…
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
The Law of Allowing
In our, live in the present, work we use the law of allowing to avoid engaging in thankless tasks that will only wear us down or wear us out. Allowing the mad people to be mad without joining them or needing change them leads to serenity. When we can accept the world, and others, as they are the uncertainty, anxiety fall away.
This is not fatalistic
To be fatalistic assumes a lack of control. In the law of allowing to be the observer of events does not make use powerless or inactive. It is more that when we choose to engage we do so mindfully with a clarity of vision and purpose. We do not engage with headless chicken syndrome running around in panic and worrying about things that we cannot effect, or that we cannot effect ‘yet’. Though we may get all angry and vocal about it and demand that others see and understand our point of view.
Become a positive script writer
In mindful psychology we know that we are each writing our own experience before it happens, we are choosing how we respond to life. When we wake in the morning feeling bad about the day we write the bad script and then go and experience it. Afterwards we can congratulate ourselves on how right we were . ‘I knew today would be bad and just look I was completely right’. Perhaps, had we chosen a better script, the day could have been better.
We are not effected by events
We are effected by our response to events
We have choices and anxiety, to be anxious, is a choice. It may not feel like that at the outset and in extreme cases we may need medication to help us reset our system. Anxiety is never the way that we are, it is the way that we have learned to be, we can learn to be different, to not be anxious.
Thoughts become things
We don’t have problems we have opportunities
When we realise and embrace the amazing creativity of human consciousness and our ability to solve problems, whatever they are, anxiety and uncertainty does not exist. When I know that whatever happens I will be able to deal with it there is no fear. It is only when we loose that perspective that uncertainty and entirety take hold.
Often the things that we do become anxious about are neither here nor there. It is simply that by focussing on them they have got bigger. We can make a drama out of a crisis.
What you feed grows and what you starve dies
OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, is the result of focussing exclusively on something and allowing it to grow so large that it takes over our entire perception so that now we cease to be present, in the moment, and live in fear, uncertainty and anxiety.
Our friends uncertainty and anxiety
Uncertainty and anxiety are our friends they have been with us through out our evolution. They have kept us safe in our quest to survive by not be eaten by predators or falling from trees. The awareness that comes with normal anxiety is good, not scaring and does not create uncertainty. When appropriate anxiety gives us the awareness that we need to stay safe. When we over focus and over think we develop anxiety disorder. This is not helpful and becomes a problem.
Meditate, be serene and be happy