It’s back to school time, and summer is winding down. Schedules are changing, and new things are starting. As we transition into Fall (yes, I too can’t believe we are already in August), many clients in my therapy practice are expressing excitement about getting back to routine, and fear of change and new things that are coming. Its the good and bad of change all wrapped up into one big ball of emotion!
If you’re like me, then chances are you too might have a strong reaction to the unknown. You might love it, or hate it, but my experience is that facing the unknown can be a pretty polarizing experience for people.
On one hand, you have folks who literally will do anything to avoid facing uncertainty. Routine, habit, and attachment are all examples of ways in which human beings revel in the known. We cling to certainty like a lifeboat in a storm. In many instances, knowing what to expect is a huge part of what allow us feel safe as life is often like the weather, beautiful and placid one day, and stormy the next. It’s easy to be frightened by the whole experience o!
And on the other hand, humans seem drawn to the unknown in ways that often can’t be explained. People spend money to see horror movies just so they can scare themselves. We delight in opening presents that are wrapped because the revealing of the unknown is so exciting. We surprise one another with parties and events as a way of showing love. And we seek out new places, and experiences through travel and exploration because the monotony of “the same old same old” has a way to depressing people’s spirit.
As far as I see it, we humans have a love hate relationship with the unknown.
Finding Balance Through Duality
Good thing for us, all things in life have duality. It helps me to remember that while not knowing what’s coming is overwhelming, it can also be delightful. This is what I like to remind myself of when I am overwhelmed by the unknown, which is often. There is a quote floating around the internet that says something like, “what a wonderful thought it is to think that there are people out there who I will love, and I haven’t even met them yet”. That thought, or the sentiment behind it, is a balancing thought when my thoughts turn to fearing the unknown.
So if you are feeling frightened or overwhelmed in any capacity, then I hope this reaches you with the message that it is universal to feel the highs and lows of life. Yes, change/uncertainty and life are hard, and its easy to get frightened, but its also delightful. So if, like me, you can get overwhelmed by the impermanent nature of life, I offer you my two cents on balancing the perspective. As Pema Chodron says, “yes, this is the way it is; this is what it means to be human“, and with that, we can feel a lot less alone in it all.