Orange painted question mark on sidewalk, with feet in blue running shoes and leg in jeans shown as photo taken from point of view of standing on the sidewalk looking down at the sidewalk. Given that the question mark is a small metal square and that there were nearby painted markings, presumably the question mark was painted by a city surveyor. Image by Mona Benjamintz.

Image by Mona Benjamintz

Accepting Uncertainty: Letting Go of the Need to Know

I came upon a question mark painted on the sidewalk during my morning walk today. Given the proximity of other nearby markings, I suspect that a city surveyor painted them. I admired the certainty with which the uncertainty was marked: a bright orange question mark in permanent paint on the sidewalk for all to see. To me, this said to the world: “I don’t know what this is, and I admit and accept that”.

What a nifty metaphor for the uncertainty we’re facing during these pandemic times. While my previous post on Fearing Uncertainty provides some tips on managing uncertainty, what about not trying to manage it? What about simply accepting it? Can you let go of the need to know?

“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” – Eckhart Tolle

I can say from personal experience that relieving yourself from a self-imposed responsibility to ‘need to know’ is liberating. Letting go of the need to know frees up your energy to focus on areas that you can control. Accepting uncertainty helps you live in the present moment.

Needing to know is highly future-focused. Accepting uncertainty brings you to the present moment, embracing what is.

I know that accepting uncertainty is easier said than done. During these pandemic times, many people are facing awful circumstances because of COVID-19. I don’t want to dismiss their challenges. For those times when your situation is non-life-threatening, rather than trying to control what you cannot, can you let go of requiring certainty? Can you let go of needing to know?

Instead of placing yourself in a never-ending cycle of “I’ll take action once I get more information”, make a plan based on the information that you have now. Once you gain more information, you can and will make the adjustments you need.

How do you feel about uncertainty?

Slightly curved, paved path in Czech Republic with shoulder high rock wall along the left and green, ornate metal railing and green bushes on the right. Image by Mikhail Shapovalov (iStock).

Image by Mikhail Shapovalov (iStock)

  • How Do You Manage Uncertainty? - Face Your Fears
    Posted at 14:17h, 12 February Reply

    […] alone tomorrow. A little humility can help us accept that we’re not in charge of what happens. Letting go of the need to know can be liberating. While we cannot control outcomes, we can control how we react to […]

  • DJ MacKinnon
    Posted at 08:31h, 08 June Reply

    Hi Mona,

    Thanks for this – so true. I think that all the extra thinking and assessing and of issues with potentially dire consequences have been wearing this year. Being as comfortable and flexible in the face of change helps a lot.

    • Mona Benjamintz
      Posted at 10:49h, 08 June Reply

      You’re so welcome! You’ve said it so beautifully with “Being comfortable and flexible in the face of change helps a lot.”

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