Learning to love your questions

As published in Sybil Magazine, October, 2015

As published in Sybil Magazine, October, 2015

(#10 of a series of 12 articles on ‘Unlocking Your Sacred Power’)

Uncertainty – we hate it. Most of the time we associate it with anxiety and confusion. And for good reason. Successful women, or so we’ve come to believe, are confident and sure of themselves. They know where they’re going and how to get there.   They don’t lay awake at night filled with questions about their lives and decisions. They know. Or do they?

We like to be certain. It gives us a sense that there’s solid ground beneath our feet. There’s comfort and momentum in knowing what we’re doing. It brings order and predictability to our lives and the world around us.   So when we’re uncertain, we think there’s something wrong – with ourselves or with our lives.

Let’s face it – the chaos of uncertainty is uncomfortable. It can leave a hole in the pit of our stomachs or make us want to hurl or run in fear. That’s why so many of us learn to over-control our jobs, our lives, our relationships, and our expectations of others. But what happens when life forces us into transition, or when we feel called to grow beyond the safe little or medium-sized boxes of our lives and embrace the wild blue yonder of uncertainty? In those moments we don’t know what lies ahead or how it will change us. That’s part of the attraction and the terror.

Years ago a beloved teacher shared that we navigate best not by what we know, by the fixed stars in our lives, but by our deepest, most insistent and perturbing questions. As I explored this in my work with transformative leaders, I found that this very capacity – to not know, to make friends with uncertainty, and to stay with one’s most profound questions – was indeed the most important guide they possessed. Why? Our questions open the door to what we don’t know, to what we know but don’t want to admit we know, and to the deeper questions (and answers) of our souls.

It’s true that an architect can’t design a building without a clear blueprint, just like we can’t live into our greatest potential if we’re not called forward by a clear and compelling vision. But sometimes our visions, plans, goals, and lives become so fixed that we can’t see the vast possibilities living outside of them. Our questions beckon to us because they contain our barely articulated hopes and our as-yet-undreamed dreams. They offer larger possibilities than certainty would have us believe.   Our questions change us and they change whatever we wonder about.

As the poet Rumi said, ‘love the questions’.   Especially the difficult and persistent ones. They’re the light in you trying to show the way.