“How to deal with uncertainty” is a question I have asked myself, people around me and Google a lot recently. One of the main reasons for that was my plan to leave my comfortable office job and turn to the wild and unknown world of freelancing. I have been pulled towards that for a long time for various reasons. And still, the fear of the unknown held me back. One time googling around on how to overcome my fear of uncertainty, I stumbled upon a program by Leo Babauta from Zen Habits. (In case you don’t know his blog yet, I highly recommend browsing through it!)
As it was becoming more and more clear to me that I HAD to try for my desired lifestyle, I also knew I had to learn dealing with my insecurities. No way around it. So I signed up for “The 44 Training Program: Turning Uncertainty & Discomfort into Mindful Openness”. Sounds exactly what I needed, right? I am proud to say that I stuck with the program for the whole duration of the 44 days. And even before going into the details I can already say that the 10 minutes invested every day were absolutely worth it! But let me tell you more in detail what happens in this program and how it impacted my daily life.
The program is planned for a duration of 44 days, as the name implies. During those 44 days, you will do a short exercise of five to ten minutes every morning, directly after waking up. (Personally, I usually just sat up in bed to not fall asleep again and started right away.) After signing up for the program, you start receiving E-mails with instructions every few days. In total you will do 11 exercises, practicing each of them for four days in a row. For me that was a good rhythm to “learn” the exercises and still not get bored. A good flow. And not knowing what the next exercise will be is a little training in how to deal with uncertainty in itself, no?
All of the exercises are some kind of meditation. It starts out with various forms of awareness exercises and then pretty quickly goes towards the harder stuff. Training discomfort and uncertainty. Leaning into it, even welcoming it. Taking it in fully and learning how much capacity for “taking in difficulty” you actually have!
In abstract words this might sound simple. But without the respective preparation exercises I am not sure I could have done meditations like the Tonglen practice. It basically makes you imagine fully breathing in whatever negative thing you are dealing with. Imagine breathing in red hot, fiery, gooey stuff. Into your nose, down your respiratory system. Believe me, this is way harder than it sounds! Accordingly, this exercise was the most challenging, but also the most rewarding for me. Effectively it felt like confrontational therapy and made me confront my fears head-on. Like they say, sometimes the only way out is through.
Effects on my life
Generally, I can distinguish between two main types of effect after having done the whole program.
One of them started happening already shortly after starting the program. That effect was a heightened awareness throughout my day. I noticed my emotional reactions to things before I acted on them. So sometimes I just decided to not act on them. Basically, I did not take all of my thoughts and emotions as reality anymore. Instead, I accepted them as being there without necessarily letting them drive me. Even my fiancé, who I did not keep posted in detail about this program, told me he noticed positive changes.
The second effect is something that took a little more time to develop. But it feels like a huge learning to me. Going through this program, doing all those exercises, I ended up being so much more courageous. Yes, that kind of was the reason to start doing this in the first place. However, to be completely honest, I did not expect such a big effect on my mindset. My view on challenges, on scary or simply unknown situations has changed so much! I no longer avoid them. Not that I am seeking them out like some kind of adrenaline junkie now. But things that I pushed away for so long out of fear – I just do them now. And I notice that rush of anxiety and I know I can deal with it. I actually learned how to deal with uncertainty.
One example for this is how I now deal with a topic that is just completely unavoidable as a self-employed person. Tax. Don’t ask. I cannot even explain to you why this has been such a scare to me for so long. Guess what. I am dealing with it now. Do I love it? Definitely not. Does it hold me back any longer? Definitely not!
Do you want to learn how to deal with uncertainty?
Then take this program. It doesn’t matter where your uncertainty is located. Those exercises and the mental tools they will equip you with will make your life better. I am convinced of this. And no, this is not a sponsored post. I have no affiliations with Zen Habits whatsoever. I am just deeply grateful for this free program and would like to share this with as many people as possible.