There is a concept I have always liked, although I’ve never studied it.
Tolerance for ambiguity.
Just the phrase makes it, well, unambiguous. Tolerance for ambiguity is an individual’s ability to tolerate ambiguous circumstances or situations. What’s interesting to me is how much people can vary on this characteristic. That’s from someone who, let’s just say, has NO tolerance for ambiguity.
I’ve actually done the measurement scale for this (as I have considered using it in studies and still am…) and found that I have very little tolerance for ambiguity or uncertainty.
This is not at all surprising. I’m not a black and white thinker – believe me, I know that the world is full of shades of gray – but I also know that when I am given the choice, I prefer to at least know what’s going to happen, vs. not having a clue.
I’m sure you can imagine how well I’m dealing with the current global pandemic. To say that we are living in uncertain and ambiguous times is one of the understatements of the year. Not only is there great uncertainty regarding how the virus will affect us in the coming months and years, but we are all dealing with a crazy amount of uncertainty in our daily lives.
For me, everywhere I turn, it seems like I’m faced with more uncertainty and ambiguity. My relationship. My job. My health. My ability to obtain the food that I need and want. Heck, even the weather here in the upper Midwest has been all over the place (60s in March! 20s in April! Gah!).
I’m trying. I’m trying to get through the best way I know – through routine, focus, moving forward even though I may not know where the path will lead. (Let’s get real – I have NO IDEA where the path will lead…)
But some days are harder than others. And that’s when I go down the rabbit hole of spiraling thoughts, and a brain that won’t turn off, and lack of sleep, and limited productivity. Those are the days I just want to toss it all out the window. But instead, I turn back to routine, to the familiar. It’s a source of comfort right now. I know that more information, decisions, ideas, will come eventually. What drives me bonkers is not knowing when that will happen.
So I sit with the ambiguity, rely on my habits and routines, and tell myself that someday I will know how all of these things turn out.
It’s just not going to be today.
“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.” ~ Kahlil Gibran