I’ve recently been studying the work of master coach Tony Robbins. Tony has no more than a high school education, but he has transformed many lives by helping people find their power amidst their trials and tribulations.
Tony believes there are six fundamental human needs, which we all find ways to satisfy in our lives. The first two human needs are certainty and uncertainty.
Yes, paradoxically we need both. Certainty corresponds to our need for safety and security, both physical and emotional. It’s our foundation for daily living. Without basic security in your life – say, someplace to go home to every night – you’d spend most of your energy trying to fill that need. You’d have little energy left for developing the more sophisticated layers of yourself.
But how would you feel if everything in your life was certain? Speaking for myself, I know I’d feel pretty stifled. That’s why Tony Robbins calls uncertainty a need. We have curious minds that crave learning and exploration, and vibrant hearts that love connection and surprise.
Or do they?
As I watched a video of Tony teaching about the need for uncertainty, he asked his audience of about two thousand, “How many of you like surprises?” Nearly every hand went up.
With his trademark gruffness, he exploded: “Bulls**t!”
“You only like surprises you want. You don’t want surprises at all if they’re not the kind you like.”
Most of us love the fun surprises: the unexpected bouquet at our door, or the pop-up birthday party organized by our coworkers. They leave us with warm feelings and fond memories.
But what about the surprises we’d never choose, like a cancer diagnosis? They blindside us. They confuse us. They scare us.
Living with the uncertainty that follows an unchosen surprise isn’t something we learn about in school. The people around us may be reeling, just as we are. It can take years to feel like we’re on solid ground again.
After cancer, it comes up in so many ways:
I’m not sure I want to follow what my doctor recommends. How do I decide what to do?
Someone I know just had a recurrence. I’m scared and I can’t get it off my mind.
I can’t get used to the way my body is –will I ever feel normal again?
How do you hold on after your world’s been upended, and certainty seems like a thing of the past?
Navigating uncertainty is an art. There are as many ways to do it as there are cancer survivors. But here’s something I know for sure: you’re not meant to do it alone.
It’s in facing uncertainty that you get to find out what you’re made of. You get to experience reserves of strength and wisdom within yourself that you didn’t know you had.
But in the midst of the storm, it’s easy to forget all that. All you want is to turn back and find a safe harbor.
That’s why you need a co-pilot.
Someone who believes in you no matter what.
Someone who’s got your back if you take a mis-step.
Someone to remind you that there’s a brilliant sun behind those threatening clouds.
If you’re struggling to navigate the emotional ups and downs of life after (or with) cancer, let’s talk. We can’t make the uncertainty go away completely, but we can sure get you happier and more confident despite its presence.
Believing in you, no matter what you may be facing right now-
Talk with Dr. Shani
It’s my joy to offer you a personal, complimentary Clarity Conversation of up to 45 minutes. You’ll come away clearer about what you’ve been struggling with, what you’d love your life to look like, and the best next steps to get you there.