Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ambiguity

As children, many of us had decisions made on our behalf. Choices and options were not easy to come by. Well meaning parents and guardians nudged us in the direction, they thought was best for us. Maybe it was. But for us, as teenagers, it was frustrating and stifling. As adults, it has rendered many of us incapable of taking decisions due to the lack of practice and dependence on the guidance from significant people in our lives.

But the bigger debilitating consequence is our inability to live in ambiguity, which is what life can be most of the time. New situations and evolving friendships come without any clear cut path of navigation. The lack of guided direction and the absence of the associated approval for following on it can be a confusing, unstable time and an emotional roller coaster for many. Primarily because they have never done it without the crutch of another friend/parent/partner to support, validate and approve. 

Imagine a situation when you are on the phone with your dear friend. She has been sounding preoccupied and distant for the last couple of weeks. Some calls have been comforting and encouraging but some like the one today are confusing. You wonder if she is upset with you. Did you say something to make her angry? Or is she just not so into you? Its disconcerting for most of us to not know. But if you move away from your own emotional reaction, you will know. Most of us confuse our own distress (in this case)to the fear of losing a friend but it is really about our inability to live in this ambiguous state, something we need to learn to live with. In this case, you will be able to ask your friend to clarify but its not always possible in other life situations. Life is anything but clear or stable. Things, people and relationships with their own priorities are often in flux, which causes ambiguity to evolve. It is important
to stay calm 
to allow the experience to take its course
be aware of your own emotions
to draw your inferences from the experience
Improved learning can be measured in your own decreasing emotional reaction
Growth can be measured in how you respond vs react to the next experience

When we have  clear instructions given to us, it is easy to follow thru. Much like using your Google Maps app on your smartphone. But it also handicaps us by making us dependent on it for directions. We fail to notice different landmarks and geographical features which will serve as markers for us to find that address again in the near future. And so, if we fail to bring our auto navigator app the next time, we will have a very difficult and maybe an almost impossible task of finding the way. 


 No matter how many instructions you have received, how much empirical data you have from non-self collective experiences, life has a way of throwing a curveball. Supportive elders get old and pass away, relationships go sour and friends move away to other cities. While it is important to learn from others' experiences, it is equally necessary to generate our own. You may falter, you may slip but after a few attempts, you will learn to stand up on your own feet......You will become stronger mentally, you will develop your coping mechanisms, you will be able to live and survive in ambiguity. And you will thrive on your own, independent of a crutch.

Ambiguity offers us a learning opportunity.....to grow, to learn and to live a life with self growth.You just have to embrace it.

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