You’re about to read Chapter 40. Want to start this story from the beginning? Go here.
Given that I am currently dwelling in a time of deep uncertainty, the topic of Lesson 40 is certainly appropriate.
But that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it.
The anxiety of not knowing
Katherine confesses that she often finds it “uncomfortable and disconcerting to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing.”
Today I saw my therapist and I cried more than usual because I was sick of her trying to help me get clarity.
“I am choosing to sit in the mess right now,” I sobbed to her. “I just need some support amid the uncertainty.”
[Editors Note: I don’t think I actually expressed myself quite so articulately, on account of the crying. But that was the gist.]
And it’s true: right now, I am choosing not to know.
Building my business has sent me down some unexpected paths, and I am still exploring the implications, which means I have yet to declare a defined trajectory.
(And maybe I never will.)
Being separated from Paul has further thrust me into the unknown, on several levels.
But—throwback to Lesson 39!—I am at cause with these conditions.
Rather than forcing an outcome, I am choosing to rest (wallow?) in my unknowing.
In my gut, with all my heart, I believe I am acting in the highest good of all involved.
That doesn’t make things comfortable, but claiming my own agency does make these situations tolerable.
Asking questions that count
Katherine posits that “the deliberate pursuit of self-awareness is our only real access to change.”
And when we are committed to our growth, “then inquiry becomes our greatest ally.”
She says that a really good question is “the catalyst of most life-altering transformations.”
I want to argue that assertion but I don’t really have the energy.
Plus it’s inarguable that right before Paul requested a four-month separation, I asked him, “How can we make you feel more free?”
So rather than debate the value of questions, I’ll just echo Katherine’s point that the type of question makes a difference.
The goal is to go deep, not to conform.
In other words, ask questions that prompt self-inquiry, rather than queries that involve others, or how you can appease them.
For example, “why don’t good guys want to be with me?” or “what can I do to make a good guy want to be with me?” are not useful.
“What beliefs do I have about being with a good guy?” is much better.
And while introspective questions won’t always have easy answers, they will always lead us toward wisdom—and love.
I think I’m on the cusp of Stage Four spirituality
Katherine goes on to detail a theory of spiritual development espoused by psychotherapist and author M. Scott Peck in his book The Different Drum.
I’ll spare you the full breakdown, but suffice to say there are four stages. First comes total self-centeredness, then strict rule-following, then rule-questioning and truth-seeking.
And “in Stage Four, people are able to tolerate the emptiness that comes with not having the answers. Living the questions is their daily practice.”
To me, Stage Four spirituality sounds a lot like Step Three of twelve-step programs, or the Om Namah Shivaya mantra of bhakti yoga, or the primary principle of A Course In Miracles:
Admit that you don’t know what you don’t know, and stop trying to figure it out.
Or as I like to think, “God’s got this. I can let it go.”
Lesson 40 in practice
I found this homework to be grating, probably precisely because I am already so immersed in uncertainty and self-inquiry.
I did not feel like considering a situation or two that “disturbs or baffles” me in some way and then writing down three questions for each situation.
However, I did it anyway.
Surprise surprise, one situation was my business and the other was Paul.
What actually did surprise me, though, was that the answers to my questions proved helpful even though I did not participate with full gusto.
I’ll keep my questions/answers about my business blocks to myself for now (afraid of success, much?).
But in case you want to know more about why I am choosing to tolerate massive uncertainty in my personal life, here is a page from my journal:
Of course there are plenty more questions where these came from.
And for today, I choose to live in uncertainty of all of them.
Love > fear,
Want to know what happens next? Proceed to Chapter 41.