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How To Create Certainty In The Midst Of Uncertainty?

If the past few years have taught us anything, it's that things start changing the second we get the hang of them... if not sooner. We've all heard some version of the wisdom saying that 'change is the one constant we can count on'. And yet, as humans, we often think of ourselves as 'creatures of habit' with their favourite people, places, experiences, activities, and even food, etc. So, how does a creature of habit adapt to constant change? (Let alone help others adapt to change?)


You have to think of developing nervous system flexibility as the cornerstone of adapting to change on a neurobiological level, which is the foundation for the mental, emotional, spiritual, and even financial adaptation to change. That change can be as tangible as moving to a new place or as intangible as breathing. Every breath in and out is a change. Every new experience, new activity, new place, new relationship, new season, new challenge, and new opportunity reveals a new change. However, you'll be hard pressed to find someone who can adapt to change 'easily' who hasn't also practiced many times throughout their life.


What's the best way to help your nervous system or your team's or community's face uncertainty, you ask? Help it understand that change doesn't always represent danger. How? Lower the amount of uncertainty it faces by lowering the amount of guessing it has to do. What might that entail? Finding anchoring experiences/activities, relationships, and places that represent certainty you can come back to in the midst of whiplashing change.


So, let's start with a couple of personal stories and close out with an invitation for to try an experiment. Are you game? Great.


Story 1: over a decade ago, I was navigating my first real heartbreak. (Speaking of change, eh?) At the time, my mom introduced me the idea of 'security blankets'. She explained that these are places, relationships, and/or experiences/activities that can help us navigate hard times the same way that security blankets help little ones deal with separation anxiety. She invited me to think about activities or projects that would add to my life as I learned how to deal with a hard time.


When I think back to the relationships and experiences that were their own type of security blankets, I think of friends with whom I had sleepovers, dance parties, inside jokes, and an ease of connection. Question: if you think of a time of contraction or a time when things were hard, what might have been your 'security blanket' relationships, places, and/or experiences?


Story 2: about 5 years ago, my therapist (#mentalhealthishealth) invited me to think about 'breadcrumbs' that could help me come back to myself as I navigated a disorienting period of expansion. It was a time of expansion in that so many dreams were coming true for me *and* it was disorienting because they all represented massive change in my everyday life. 'Breadbrumbs' are tokens, traditions, activities, rituals, and/or habits that make you feel grounded. For example, I have a photo of a trip that meant the world to me. The day that photo was taken, I was in a lot of physical pain. I was *also* learning about elephants, which brought me expansive joy.


That picture now represents the fact that pain and wonder can coexist. Wonder may not take away the pain *and* wonder can still exist in the midst of pain. At the time, looking at this photo helped me remember that I could be ecstatic *and* disoriented because I had literal proof that two things could be true at the same time. Question: what might be some of the 'breadcrumbs' that help you come back to yourself, no matter what you're going through today?


Invitation to an experiment: as you navigate 'big' or 'small' changes, check in with the relationships, places, and experiences/activities that have an anchoring effects. I invite you to create a bit of a list in your Notes app of 'anchors' that can help you and yours create a bit of certainty in the midst of uncertainty. I invite you to have them handy so that you can get in the habit of noticing these anchors and of using them.


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