Thursday 20th January 2022

Uncertainty Updated. 2017.57.

Uncertainty Updated. 2017.57.

This post was updated on Sat 10 June 2017.

Did this headline make you a bit wary?

I do not like uncertainty.

However, I am learning that there is no such thing as certainty. Except for death. Apparently!

It makes me nervous and curious and I know how I must remember  that somehow I need to accept uncertainty.


I would have to say because I have grown very weary of trying to control what I cannot control…but thought I was! Is that familiar?

My journey (yep, I like the word and it stays!) has taken me on a number of learning paths as I seek help to understand life as I don’t know it!

One such person is Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, and her many books and teachings are in my library now.

I have this book beside my bed and read one chapter a night. Most nights anyway!

This excerpt is from chapter 14.

According to the Buddha, the lives of all beings are marked by three characteristics: impermanence, egolessness, and suffering or dissatisfaction. Recognising these qualities to be real and true in our own experience helps us to relax with things as they are.

The first mark is impermanence. That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and changing, is the first mark of existence. We don’t have to be mystics or physicists to know this. Yet at the level of personal experience, we resist this basic fact.

It means life isn’t always going to go our way. It means there’s loss as well as gain. And we don’t like that.

We know that all is impermanent; we know that everything wears out. Although we can buy this truth intellectually, emotionally we have a deep-rooted aversion to it.

We want permanence; we expect permanence. Our natural tendency is to seek security; we believe we can find it. We experience impermanence at the everyday level as frustration. We use our daily activity as a shield against the fundamental ambiguity of our situation. expending tremendous energy trying to ward off impermance and death.

We don’t like it that we age. We are afraid of wrinkles and sagging skin. We use health products as if we actually believe our skin, our hair, our eyes and teeth, might somehow miraculously escape the truth of impermance.

The Buddhist teachings aspire to set us free from this limited way of relating to impermanence. They encourage us to relax gradually and wholeheartedly into the ordinary and obvious truth of change.

Acknowledging this truth doesnt mean we are looking on the dark side. What is means is that begin to  understand that we’re not the only one who can’t keep it all together.

We no longer believed that there are people who have managed to avoid uncertainty.

Comfortable with Uncertainty. Pema Chodron. 2003. Shambhala Publications.

I am a life-long learner and I have been learning more lessons about life and me in the past few years than I ever felt possible. I have great respect for the words of Brene Brown and have signed up for this combo of courses on-line called Daring Greatly and Rising Strong. If you are interested in knowing more, here is the link.

Have you given much thought to what it is to be uncertain?

Do you struggle with the notion that we are not really in charge of many aspects of our lives as we might prefer to be?

I’d love to hear your comments.

Next week I am finally owning up to the vulnerability of telling my story. It won’t be confined to one post!


Less than one month after writing this post, I was diagnosed with cancer. More about that here. and here 

If ever there is/was a reason to feel even more uncertainty then this is now. I am doing my utmost to stay present and appreciate now but for someone like me, who thinks ahead, plans what she can and wants to know what’s coming, cancer has been sent to test me on many levels. This weekend, I know that within one month from now, my surgery will have happened. But it’s yet to come. I am grateful for support and care from many of course, but in the end there is one person who must do this and that is me.

Sharing especially today with Sammie who has been the most kind and understanding person as she has faced her cancer and dealt with it all incredibly well. I thank her for her presence in my life. Joining here for the Ultimate Rabbit Hole.

Oh and by the way, I am still reading the above book and am about to commence the second part of the course: Rising Strong.

Joining with Leanne and friends  here who are part of the inclusive and lovely link up Lovin’ Life.



  1. This post really sang to me. The thing that I have most issue with is uncertainty – around the things that are uncontrollable. I know I should let it all be and all of that, but I’m hopeless at that. Even though I know that it’s the uncomfortable stuff that helps us grow. Knowing and *knowing* are 2 different things.

    • I hear you and I understand only too well. I wish so much of my life now was better than it is but then it ‘is what it is’ and I need to accept that. There’s another thing I have a lot of difficulty with: acceptance. I do a lot of resisting. Probably because it is all a bit too hard or overwhelming. I am learning what I can and can’t control and it is not easy. At.All. But, it’s got to be better than doing nothing and staying stagnant I guess.

  2. I’m with Jo, I got a lot out of this Denyse. The concept of impermanence is one I feel I’m not to bad with, but I’m intrigued by the other characteristics: egolessness (am trying to think about what that means) and dissatisfaction. I know I’m really struggling with the latter at the moment.

    I don’t necessarily like uncertainty but I think I ‘assume’ things are impermanent which is both good and bad. I don’t have unrealistic expectations, but I’m also cynical / pessimistic about trying things or buying into things because ‘it won’t last’. If that makes sense.

    • It is quite a lot to delve into I agree. I am at such a beginning level of understanding some of these teachings via the Buddhist perspective but at the same time they make a lot of sense. I hope my journey of learning continues to be of interest as I keep on posting.

  3. I’m not a huge fan of uncertainty, which is why I sometimes struggle with my own business. It can be feast or famine and I never know what it will be or when!!!!

    • Yes, that would be me too Janet. I am like this about where will be living next and in what. I want to have a place of our own again…but again, it’s uncertain when and if. Sigh.

  4. I think when I was in my early fifties I was struggling to come to grips with impermanence, particularly the ageing aspect and feeling a little worthless after becoming an empty nester. It would be nice to be in control of our futures and how well we age. I don’t give it too much thought except for when I catch sight of myself in a mirror and then realise that I’m getting old. I mostly concentrate on the ‘now’ and making the most of however many years I have left on this earth. I think this is the best way to cope with impermanence. 🙂 #TeamLovinLife

    • Thank you Kathy for your insights. Mine have come much later…and I am still struggling because before we moved here and sold up, I had a lot I was certain about! I may have been older at 60-65 but I was employed in education on a part-time basis, I cared for our grandkids and did quite a bit of social media connecting. It was when my world changed completely that most if not all of what I identified with shifted. It is taking me a good while to move through this but I am generally loving the learning even though I am challenged by the discomforts! Denyse x

  5. Oh Denyse that excerpt from the book gave me goosebumps. Yes … that is me. I think I need to read this book. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. xo #TeamLovinLife

    • The works of Pema Chodron are amazing and if you don’t already know here, just google to see. I have (now) many of her teachings on CD (I prefer to listen more) and do this as I am making my mandalas and other art. This book though is it! I got it (as I do all of my finds) via Bookdepository.

  6. I am the biggest control freak at times Denyse – uncertainty is a really scary thing for me. As time goes on I’m getting better at not needing all my ducks in a row – Brene Brown has taught me a lot of valuable lessons about letting go of Perfectionism too.

    • I like that Brene confesses she aint got it together either! I have paid for 4 of her courses on-line and the one I recently completed on Self-Compassion with Kristin Neff, Brene was so far out of her comfort zone it wasnt funny. But it made me respect her even more. The two course I paid less to do as a pack are giving me much food for thought let me tell you! Yes, control freaks are anxious people and I know I hate being anxious but it oh so hard to let go isn’t it?

  7. I’m a control freak. But I’m also someone who quite likes a good challenge. Uncertainty provides me with that I guess. So sometimes I don’t mind it.

    I don’t like the uncertainty around my step daughter’s cancer, that’s for sure.

    I also don’t like being involved in projects where I have no idea if the other people involved are doing their bit and they’re not communicating. Which is happening to me right now with one project. Different type of uncertainty, but that is doing me in …


    • I think I understand your stance very well indeed. I am sure that my health has suffered as a result of so much uncertainty in my life. However, I also think there are parts of me that are learning, very slowly, that I cannot control all I want to control. Sigh. I do hope thing settle down a bit for you on the uncertainty front, as I am sure you need a bit more quiet (well, time for some chilling out) in your life from time to time.

  8. Nodded along and resonated with every word. Even after successful surgery and treatment I am left with the uncertainty of worrying if it might come back. All I can do is remind myself that I have limited control over this, I can only try to exercise and eat well and still have no guarantees. Meanwhile, right now, today, I am cancer free and I am wasting energy worrying about the future… GAH! Does my head in. Anyway, I am not being very comforting, am I? Sorry, D. I just know how you feel.

    And another thing that I wanted to mention, when I was going through treatment I was quite anxious and people kept saying you have to stay calm. I talked about this with the cancer psychologist and she assured me that this is one of the myths – that somehow if you cannot be calm and serene throughout every second of treatment that your prognosis is doomed. According to her, the only time anxiety would be a concern is if it stopped a patient from turning up and receiving all their treatment, so the main thing is to acknowledge and accept it and keep turning up (not easy!). And if you have to take valium or whatever that’s okay. I took a small dose of ativan for everyday of my radiation, and stopped when I was finished and it was fine.

    Anyway, that’s enough of my rambling. Thinking of you xo

  9. This was so, so helpful for me Ness!! Thank you for sharing your views. I am so fortunate to have people like you ‘who get it’. I know over the years I have read those posts which say “what not to say to someone with cancer” and last night a comment made to me in another social media forum was “stay positive”….and I was NO, it is NOT something I want to be positive about tonight..or even tomorrow.
    Like you, I have some great professionals helping me too. In fact, my surgeon and I are having email convos where he answers any of my questions. There have been a few. Whilst he can give no guarantees about my cancer and its spread or return, he told me of his confidence and that of his boss/colleague. Nevertheless, I know I am only into one month so far, and to be declared cancer-free wont be for 5 years. Sigh. Waiting and wondering…something that cancer is perhaps teaching me (and you?).
    Thanks for so much helpful advice and yes, I has valium!!
    Denyse xx

  10. I don’t know how I would assess how I deal with change. I’ve had a lot of it, so I’m use to it. I don’t know if I’d say I like it, but I also know I get impatient at others who can’t deal AT ALL with even a small change…

  11. Beautiful words, Denyse and thanks for the shout out! I won’t lie, the uncertainty was the hardest thing about my cancer diagnosis. However, I learned that it was much easier to surrender to it rather than resist it and it’s actually taught me an important life lesson, not just during my diagnosis and treatment but beyond. I’ve learned that certainty almost sets us up to fail because life is full of surprises, both good and not so good and things rarely go as planned. These days I always expect the unexpected and don’t take anything as a given. It’s made me a lot more relaxed and a lot more spontaneous, and these days I really can go with the flow. Change is never easy, but it’s part of our personal growth. I know you will be able to embrace this uncertainty and as challenging as this change will be, you will grow from it too. I believe in you.

    • Thank you Sammie. Your words are very helpful. I know that at some stage, I will realise how much I am growing and learning from the cancer diagnosis and what follows but it’s still quite stark and fresh.
      I will return to your words and that of others because of your experiences and they will help me see beyond what feels and is quite unknown. Glad you are here as one of my guides! Denyse x

  12. I wish you well in your surgery Denyse! And Sammie is definitely a great friend to have!