Navigating the Uncertain Mind: A Method for Embodied Self-Reflection

Tara H

Hatched by Tara H

Mar 21, 2024

5 min read


Navigating the Uncertain Mind: A Method for Embodied Self-Reflection

In our fast-paced and ever-changing world, uncertainty has become a constant companion. From personal decisions to global events, we are constantly faced with unknowns that can leave us feeling overwhelmed and anxious. How do we navigate the uncertain mind and find clarity amidst the chaos? Enter proprioceptive writing, a method for embodied self-reflection that can help us make sense of our thoughts and emotions.

Proprioceptive writing is a practice that encourages us to slow down and listen to ourselves. It invites us to take the time to write down each feeling as it comes, treating our thoughts as voices in our minds. By giving each voice its space, we can gain insight into the stories we tell ourselves and the underlying concerns that drive our actions.

The first stage of proprioceptive writing is to write down everything without judgment. It's essential to explore each thought fully before moving on to the next feeling or concern. For example, if you find yourself worrying about your income, take a moment to dig deeper into the origin of this thought. What is your mind trying to say? By delving into the underlying emotions and beliefs, we can uncover valuable insights about ourselves.

Throughout the writing process, it is crucial to ask ourselves, "What do I mean by...?" This question allows us to unpack our thoughts and emotions further, unraveling the layers of our subconscious. As we engage in proprioceptive writing, we develop a deeper understanding of the stories we tell ourselves and the narratives that shape our experiences.

At the end of the 25-minute writing session, it's time to reflect on what we have written. Four review questions can guide us through this process. Firstly, we ask ourselves which thoughts were heard but not written down. These unheard voices may hold valuable information that we haven't fully acknowledged. Secondly, we inquire about how we feel now. Has the act of writing brought clarity or stirred up more confusion? Understanding our emotional state can help us gauge the effectiveness of our self-reflection.

Next, we examine the story we are telling ourselves. Are we creating narratives based on facts, or are our perceptions clouded by biases and assumptions? By identifying the story we are weaving, we can assess its accuracy and make conscious choices about the narratives we want to embrace. Lastly, we consider whether we have gained any direction for future proprioceptive writing sessions. Are there specific areas we want to explore further? Are there unresolved concerns that require more attention? By setting intentions for future sessions, we ensure that our self-reflection practice remains focused and purposeful.

Now that we have explored the power of proprioceptive writing, let's delve into the uncertain mind and how our brains handle the unknown. Uncertainty, as it turns out, always increases cognitive load. Whether it's the fear of unemployment, health threats, or disruptions in the consumer market, our minds bear the burden of processing these uncertainties.

To better understand how our brains handle unknowns, we can categorize them into four types: Known-Knowns, Known-Unknowns, Unknown-Knowns, and Unknown-Unknowns. Known-Knowns are uncertainties that we are aware of and can plan for. For example, if we know that there is a high possibility of a layoff at our company, we can create strategies to navigate that potential outcome.

On the other hand, Known-Unknowns are uncertainties that we know exist but lack sufficient knowledge to make a plan. These uncertainties challenge us because we are aware of their presence but lack the necessary information to make informed decisions. For instance, leaving a stable job to pursue an entrepreneurial venture involves inherent uncertainties, but without adequate data, creating a step-by-step plan becomes challenging.

Unknown-Knowns, on the other hand, are uncertainties that we are not consciously aware of but still impact our decision-making. These implicit uncertainties can lead to biases and assumptions that influence our choices without our knowledge. By uncovering our assumptions and identifying biases, we can replace them with factual data and make more informed decisions.

Lastly, we have the Unknown-Unknowns, the uncertainties that we don't even know exist. These are the risks that arise from unexpected situations that we could not have predicted. While we can't foresee every eventuality, there are steps we can take to reduce the impact of unknown-unknowns. Market research and strategic intelligence can help us uncover blind spots and minimize the surprises they bring.

In conclusion, proprioceptive writing and understanding how our brains handle uncertainty provide us with powerful tools for self-reflection and decision-making. By taking the time to listen to ourselves through writing, we gain insights into our thoughts, emotions, and the narratives that shape our experiences. Simultaneously, categorizing uncertainties and exploring ways to address them allows us to navigate the uncertain mind with greater clarity and resilience.

To make the most of these practices, here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Set aside dedicated time for proprioceptive writing: Create a regular practice of setting aside 25 minutes each day to engage in proprioceptive writing. Treat it as a sacred ritual for self-reflection and make it a non-negotiable part of your routine.
  • 2. Embrace curiosity and open-mindedness: When facing uncertainties, approach them with curiosity rather than fear. Be open to exploring the unknown and challenging your assumptions. By cultivating a curious mindset, you can turn uncertainties into opportunities for growth and learning.
  • 3. Seek diverse perspectives: When grappling with unknowns, seek input from diverse sources. Engage in conversations with people from different backgrounds and expertise. Their insights can shed light on blind spots and provide fresh perspectives that enrich your decision-making process.

By incorporating proprioceptive writing into our lives and understanding the nature of uncertainty, we can navigate the uncertain mind with greater clarity, resilience, and purpose. It is through these practices that we can embrace the unknown and transform it into a catalyst for personal and professional growth.

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