We are in the Great Unknown

Apr 9, 2020 | blog

I always say humans are horrible at assessing risk. It takes statistics to move us as a population — think seatbelts, smoking, getting rid of transfats. All those things took monumental numbers of people being hurt to make shifts in our everyday lives. 
In the absence of statistics, we use society’s norms to help us decide what’s “wrong or right,” “good or bad” for us. 
It’s good to get married. 
It’s wrong to be lazy and not hustle. 
It’s right to have happy hour and drink wine. 
All these wrongs and rights add up to us not having to spend time making decisions about the trajectory of our lives. We can rely on the habits of our society. We don’t have to assess the risk – others are doing it and their experience resonates with me – so I can do it, too. The brain likes that safety net. 
Maybe I’m like 3-year-old, but I just can’t help asking Why? sometimes.  
I think a big reason for panic, fear and toilet paper hoarding is the response to the unknown. Even in the last couple of weeks there’s been a change in energy as we’ve been able to “wrap our heads” around Corona virus and its implications. 
We now have predictions for the loss of life. 
We can name this as collective grief. This doesn’t make it less sad or easier to deal with. But it does mean we have answers.
Before all we had were questions.  
All we knew is that everything we had answers for was (is) getting upended. And it was (is) unnerving and made people ugly in their fear because – we’re awful at assessing risk and then figuring out what to do from there.    

Where do you look for answers?

I think as humans we like answers that are tribal; meaning we like to feel connected to beliefs, perspectives and ways of being that are shared by other people. Before social media and mass transportation, the tribes were more about geography; family and friends who surrounded us locally. 
Wow… it’s so different now. You can have so much in common with someone who is on the other side of the world, but then not even hang out with your next door neighbor. 
We can literally build our own tribe (which isn’t that what Facebook, Instagram, groups and email lists basically are) — digital tribes reaffirming your beliefs? Telling you (your brain), it’s ok, you’re safe. You’re not making decisions from the unknown, you’re basing them on what others think and have experienced, too. 
I think tribes are important. They can help us realize parts of ourselves that were hidden. They give us a sense of belonging and allow us to express our true selves. They can help us learn and grow. But they can also narrow our thinking and make us dependent on looking to someone else for answers and perhaps even suffocate our desires, if we decide we don’t have the same beliefs anymore.

In this Great Unknown  

It’s interesting to me that people are saying this is a time to slow down and get quiet and take a look at what life has to offer because of this new reality. In my opinion, what’s really happening is that they’re having to look inward for answers to the question of: 
“What do I do?”

We’re kinda used to it being served up to us:
Kids sports, going out to bars, shopping, running errands, working
The thing is, this question of “what do I do?” is ALWAYS there. But how often are you resorting to defaults of society or your tribe or other people to provide you with the answer?   
There’s no advice here, no “how-to’s” or recommendations for “getting through the pandemic.” The point of this is simply an invitation to consider that we’re always living in the great unknown… this is just more unknowable than most times. 
Where are you looking for answers?  
I’ll leave you with a poem by Kristen Kalp. It’s gotten me through dark times and good times. 
Help me breathe life into the space
between who I am and who I’m becoming.
Help me transcend the path that is merely obvious
for the one unfolding through the things I can’t not do.
Help me choose to follow those breadcrumbs and in the process
to make something solid in the soul, something lasting,
something holy.

Help us breathe life into the space
between who we are and who we’re becoming.
Help us transcend the path that is merely obvious
for the path calling to us through the things we can’t not do.
Help us choose to follow those breadcrumbs and in the process
to make something solid in the soul, something lasting,
something holy.

One thing I’ve learned about change and unknowns, it’s not assessing the risk that will help guide you. It is following the breadcrumbs. So, what are yours?
Follow them… 
Many hugs,


P.S. I’m here if you want support for free right now — check out my calendar to book.


I help stressed out working professionals stop destructive habits and be healthier and more joyful, so you can make lasting changes and achieve goals, even if you are busy. I do this through one-on-one coaching packages that provide a customized visual gameplan that you can actually use. Just fill out the contact form to talk to me about scheduling a complimentary breakthrough session to get started on your personal plan.

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