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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

Turn the unknown into your ally [Wise Wednesdays]


While doing some research on liberational coaching, I heard a quote: “The opposite of slavery is not freedom. The opposite of slavery is the unknown” by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen. She left her career in paediatrics and became a leader in integrative medicine, publishing two (New York Times) bestsellers: Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessing.


Our amygdala does not like the unknown. Psychologists call this “Ambiguity Intolerance” and it’s correlated with indecisiveness. The fear of the unknown is the main reason we stay stuck in careers, relationships and situations that are not right for us.


Our ancient brain hates the unknown (for good reason when it evolved) and hijacks our prefrontal cortex into overanalysing, accumulating information and coming up with the perfect plan in a misguided attempt to manufacture a feeling of certainty. Yet both scientific research and ancient wisdom tell us that we’re terrible at predicting what will make us happy and that all the time we spend weighing up the pros and cons of complex decisions to avoid discomfort is pretty much a waste. Our future needs to be entrusted to something bigger than our fear of the unknown and our tactics to avoid it.


In other words, we simply can’t think our way out of the discomfort of the unknown. It has to be faced, embraced and transformed into your ally. Whether it’s handing in your resignation; telling someone you’re no longer available; or presenting your ideas to a board or investors, the transformation is the same. The fear of the unknown must transform into the aliveness of adventure.


There is a simple way to turn the unknown into your friend.


It’s not analysis paralysis.

It’s not pushing yourself.

It’s not taking reckless risks.


What helps is your own Presence -self-compassionate soothing presence that allows you to feel that you’re OK. This enables you to gently expand your tolerance of ambiguity/the unknown. (Ambiguity Tolerance is a key entrepreneurial trait, by the way).


You can be Present just by paying attention to your breathing. You’ll notice the walls of fear begin to recede, and experience a sense of spaciousness, and what appeared to be a journey into the unknown will intuitively become a small step in a new direction. You’ll know it’s the right step because you’ll feel invigorated, teetering on the enlivening edge between fear and excitement.


What’s your next TINY (and slightly edgy) step in a new direction?


Have a great week,

Amina






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