Surrendering To Uncertainty

When it happened, I felt a little embarassed that she caught me.

On Saturday morning, I drove to the local gym for my weight lifting class.  In the middle of an hour session, the instructor asked us to add more weight to our barbell. Instead of listening and paying attention to the task at hand, my right arm reached for my purse, pulled out my phone, and checked my email and text messages.

While I checked my “important” messages, I heard a voice in surround sound bellow, “Oh, I love it. Multi-tasking at its best. Checking your phone in between lifting weights.” I look up, knowing the instructor’s sarcastic comments were directed toward me.  The echo of her words prompted me to put my phone away and pretend like she wasn’t talking about me.

For most of the weekend, I pondered  her comment and wondered why it had such an affect on me. I’ve noticed a trend in my own behavior especially when it comes to my phone. I have this constant need to check it at all times of the day. Sometimes I check the news, other times it’s my email or my google reader or my blog stats or to make certain I’m not missing a “important” phone call message.

It reeks of addiction, but that seems like too easy of an explanation for my taste. I’ve realized that I’m unable to cope with uncertainty. I’ve always craved to be in the know. I’m tuned into CNN or MSNBC, making certain that I don’t miss an important headline. When the information wasn’t readily accessible with the advent of phones and computers, I recall watching the nightly news or fetching the paper. If I’ve sent an email or text, I want to be aware of a possible response the moment it arrives. Why the need for this, I’m not quite sure. And why I need all of this sometimes extraneous information is still is a mystery to me.

I attribute part of this need to be plugged in as a reluctance to surrender to uncertainty. It’s why I don’t like to fly. Or why I need to have printed and emailed directions when I am going to a new place. When my husband has a date night planned, I need to know where we are going and what we are doing. I am uncomfortable with uncertainty although I recognize intellectually that there are very few things that I can control.

It’s the need to busy myself at all times so I don’t have the luxury of thinking about the future. Because thinking about five years or ten years from now, makes me feel anxious and nervous. It’s the ultimate monster of uncertainty.

But I’m looking at the gym embarassment as a wake-up call. I won’t be bringing in my phone to my workouts anymore. I’m going to try to be uncertain for at least one hour of everyday. No checking phones or computers or turning on the news.

It’s a small leap, but I am going to try to surrender to the uncertainty.


Are you constantly plugged in to your phone? Are you comfortable with uncertainty? How do you cope with not being in the know? 

Image by Horia Varlan


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21 responses to “Surrendering To Uncertainty

  1. Rudri,
    some days feel that way to me and on other days I want to be a little disconnected but I usually end up picking up the phone to check the messages that came in. Surrender to uncertainty is easier said than done. I think we both know that we can’t control everything so you have to allow yourself to flow with time 🙂

    • It is harder to surrender to uncertainty. I am still learning to “go with the flow.” It’s very difficult some days because my planner personality takes charge.

  2. suzicate

    Though I like “being in the know”, I know I am not “in control”, therefore, I’ve learned to surrender. My control issues still pop up, but I gently remind myself to let it go. It’s an ongoing process. I like being connected, but I’m ok without checking my , calling or taking calls, etc…as long as I have the comfort of knowing I have my phone in case I “need” it.

    • For me, I wish I could stop reminding myself to let go. Then I know it is part of my personality, rather than something that is effort. I’m working on it.

  3. “…surrender to uncertainty.” Love it!

  4. Ah yes. I know that feeling all too well – I’m constantly checking my phone and computer too, like it’s some kind of tic. Unlike you, it’s not really the news or headlines I care about – just conversations, emails, comments from friends and readers to help me connect with the rest of the world while I’m here, away from everyone else. Not sure why that it’s important to me. I am less likely to seek my phone when I’m with my family but while I’m by myself, it seems like I’m constantly seeking companionship of the virtual kind.

    • A tic is the best way to describe my dependence on my phone. Maybe it is companionship – a need to know that someone is trying to reach us or missing us.

  5. Cecilia

    I used to be that way until, like you, I started to feel embarrassed about my behavior. Also, just being chained to my phone started stressing me, and when we moved to the US (from Tokyo) I actually went the other direction, and got the cheapest cell phone possible (no internet access). I was fine being in oblivion during my non-work hours. 4 weeks ago, I got an iPhone because my formerly cheap phone was no longer cheap, and with an iPhone I’m falling back into my former trap. As of tonight actually, I’m going to try and make a new rule of “no iPhone after dinner.” For me staring into a screen is a way to escape the obligations of everyday life…

    • I have an iphone too. And it is so user friendly that I fall into the habit of being on it all of the time. I’m checking messages, playing words with friends, texting, and checking facebook. I like the idea of no iphone after dinner. Maybe I will institute that next week.

  6. I am so guilty of this. Right there with you my friend. I’ll go for bouts when I can ignore my phone, but it’s become like an appendage. I like to be informed, I like to stay on top of things and issues of interest. But like you, I’m working on finding no phone zones. I should probably start with the bedroom. 🙂

  7. I don’t have a “fancy” phone…but I’ve realized that I check mine way too much too. I’m trying to go off the grid more too.

  8. Once upon a time I was a planner, and a contingency planner, and felt semi-in control of my world. Kids changed that. Divorce and layoff changed that. Aging and other life events cement our realization that we can only “plan” so much, uncertainty relative to the world around us and our own little universe is part of reality. Our news sources and 24/7 gadget feeds offer real access and connection, but also a false sense of time, timing, and essential information.

    I’ve learned to expect uncertainty and roll with it. I also purposely find times to be disconnected, though granted, they are abbreviated (largely due to parenting responsibilities). I long for the freedom to be even more “out of touch,” to allow for getting back in touch with myself.

    • Circumstances and unexpected crisis certainly can change the dependency on planning. You realize you have little control on so many facets of your life. I believe with the advent of technology we are all under the impression that we do have some semblance of control, but in reality this is a facade.

  9. I’m guilty of this not-so-good habit. My phone, in so many ways, is a runner-up companion. I reach for it often when I find myself alone and I think this stems from an innate human need to connect.

    • I do believe it can be used to connect. But it certainly can get out of hand. I’m working on being still when I find a need to reach for my phone.

  10. I often find myself wishing for simpler times – the days without cell phones, answering machines, text messages and email. When you had to actually be home to pick up a telephone call. I often complain that “everyone wants a piece of me” when it comes to my kids and husband. Being tethered to a phone/email only increases that pull. I love your “uncertainty exercise!” I’m going to try it!

  11. I can sooooo relate to this. I’m guilty as charge with being such a control-freak. I love to-do list and check them off! “uncertainty”, ” take risk”, “unplanned”, “go with the flow” were not part of my vocabulary :). But, I agree with you. “Surrender to uncertainty” is oh-so-important. I’ve started the journey and I’ve felt better as I let it go. And those small steps really do wonder.

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