Most of us prefer to follow a more predictable path and don’t like being rattled by unforeseen events. And, unfortunately, life feels especially unpredictable at the moment. The world is going through rapid and unprecedented change. We might in the past have relied on certain pillars of stability, be they religious, political or familial. Such sources of security have gone for many people and so too has the sense of a job for life.
The problem then is how to accept unpredictability and become more flexible. Because the more rigid our map of the world, the more opportunities there are for that map to collide with the messiness of our reality. A realisation that struck me a few years ago: life never, ever, goes exactly as planned.
The trick is to choose how to respond to this inevitable diversion from what we expect. One answer is to decide that actually much of life’s excitement can reside in the unplanned. We are forced to be alert in order to figure out new ways forward. In the process we learn. The days when my plans are derailed are more memorable than the days when life goes on course.
A second idea is to imagine your thoughts in cartoon speech bubbles, placing in each bubble the fixed outcomes to which you were attached. Then picture reaching out your hand, and gently popping the bubble, thereby allowing space for a new reality. You can make this even more concrete by drawing the bubble on a piece of paper.
Learning to be more adaptable in small ways has in turn helped me cope with bigger, more important unpredictable events. My life has not gone to plan. And that’s okay.
Your turn to deal with moments that require adapting to unforeseen circumstances:
- Write inside the speech bubble the fixed outcome to which you were attached and had to abandon, as life didn’t go according to plan.
- Cut out the speech bubble. Scrunch it up.
- Throw it away.
- This was an excerpt and illustration from Singing in the Rain: An inspirational workbook by Head Talks ambassador Rachel Kelly. You can read more of her posts on Head Talks here.