Uncertainty struck big time when the magnificent life I had created was turned upside down with an email that read in part: “While we’ve enjoyed having you as a tenant for the past eight years, we have decided to sell.”
Instantly my stomach tightened and my body started to shake. This was the third time in 20 years that I found myself on the receiving end of a move that was not my choice. The first two experiences worked out well, but this time it wasn’t just about finding a new place to live. It was going to take a magical miracle, a nontraditional solution, to find a new place that would not only be a match for my physical and emotional requirements but would also fit my budget. Daunting and disheartening to say the least. That’s why I was ripe and ready for Tama Kieves’ insightful teaching.
Facing Fears of the Unknown
Kieves is an authority on uncertainty. She threw her own life into the great unknown when she chose to leave a soul-crushing law practice with a six-figure income to become a writer. “I felt so constrained and so tied up and burdened,” she recalls. “I felt like there were tiny bits of glass in my body and that if I moved I would feel them stabbing me because I was living an inauthentic life. What I wanted was to be so free, so liberated, so whole that I could move with that inner spirit, move wholeheartedly.”
To do that, she had to fire her inner judge. “When I heard a different voice—a very loving voice—my body relaxed,” she says. “That’s the voice I wanted to listen to. That’s how I wanted to live my life,” said Kieves. The result was her first book, This Time I Dance (Awakening Artistry Press, 2002).
Yet success did not come overnight. She spent 12 years writing that first book—often questioning her sanity, wondering at every turn if she was doing the right thing. “I was waiting tables and trying to launch a coaching career and conducting workshops in my apartment,” she remembers.
What the experience taught her, and what she teaches others today, is that we all have a choice of what inner voice to listen to—the voice of fear or the voice of love. “Will you listen to the voice that’s diminishing you and being ‘realistic,’ which can be just another term for being negative? Or will you listen to the voice of love, vision, desire, and truth?” she asks. “I don’t want to be realistic if it means being limited like everyone else. I want to create a new reality. It takes courage in a society that typically celebrates results to follow and trust your inner voice more than the external voices of the world, to trust what your heart, your soul, and your gut are telling you.”
Throughout the years, Kieves has grown to trust the voice of love to the point that she says, “I will go anywhere that voice takes me. I’ve learned it’s stupid not to listen to that voice, even in times of desperation.”
Calling on Courage
In the introduction to her new book, Thriving Through Uncertainty (TarcherPerigee, 2018), Kieves invites us as willing participants to step into the life we didn’t plan, choosing to make uncertainty our “new best friend” so we can discover our certainty.
Kieves’ rallying cry for living an inspired life is to “do whatever it takes to discover, connect, and deepen your relationship to your Inspired Self,” she writes.
She divides the process into two parts. First is a “willingness to get to know yourself—your hopes, dreams, fears, and who you really are beyond your conditioning or who you think you ‘should’ be.” The second part is to find your way to whatever belief system expands and comforts you so you can keep immersing yourself in a larger truth, “or inevitably,” she warns, “the world of limitations will insidiously have its way with you.”
Kieves shares three recommended practices that continually help her discover herself and move beyond fear and confusion. They include:
Referred to as her life-saving journaling technique, Kieves uses this method to get past fear and hear guidance. First, write down whatever fears or concerns keep you from moving forward. Then invite your inspired self to respond in writing. This is where Kieves hears “the most loving voice you could ever imagine.” Think about what a loving parent might say, she suggests, or simply think about what you would say to your child or to your best friend. She even suggests thinking of what someone from history who you admire might say. “Even if it feels awkward or the voice is too nice,” she says, “just do it anyway.” With more practice, the voice will become more real.
“This practice has helped me tap into this extraordinary part of myself that is always there, but one I’m not connecting with when I’m in fear,” she explains. “That loving voice will remember things that my fear has conveniently forgotten, and I just see so many other possibilities. I also start recognizing what my voice of fear sounds like so that later when I’m in fear I can start realizing, Oh, this isn’t real. This is that voice and I’m just listening to it without even realizing it.”
The Win List
In times of transition or when forward momentum stalls, the daily practice of writing a “win list” helps you remember what you got right. It also focuses your mind on what you want to see. Simply write down at least five to 10 actions you’ve taken toward achieving your goals, including what Kieves calls inner actions—emotional or mindset shifts along with outer support, coincidence, and synchronicity. “Include anything that helps you feel a sense of life communicating with you, being on your side, showing up on your behalf,” she says. “Even the most miniscule detail of a win should be noted.”
“These don’t have to be traditional wins,” she adds. “It could be ‘I’m usually depressed for 30 minutes, but today I was depressed for only 29.’ I want people to have love, compassion, and excitement for where they are now. I want them to thrive and to have success in the middle, not just in the end.”
Because freewriting gets us past the conscious mind that tends to judge and negate our heart’s desires, Kieves says it’s a “great way to explore your beliefs, stories, imagery, and memories.” Start by choosing a word, memory, image, question, or topic and then writing nonstop for 15 minutes. Kieves says it’s okay to go off topic or ignore it altogether if the energy of the exercise takes you in a different direction. The writing is not to be judged or edited in any way. “Just let it flow,” she says. “Write it raw.”
Kieves lives by these practices and uses their power to be a change agent for others. “One of my dreams is to help create a new mainstream culture,” she says. “I really want to help create a new dialogue, a new conversation. I believe that we’re not here to make it in the world—we’re here to remake the world with our love, with our vision, and with our possibilities. We’re the mavericks, we’re the light, we’re the messengers.”
The word courage, she points out, comes from coeur (French for “heart”). “So having courage is about following your heart, even in a culture that idolizes the brain,” she notes. “The heart has a higher intelligence.”
While I have yet to discover how my housing situation will resolve, what is resolved, thanks to Kieves’ teachings, is my certainty that staying centered and trusting my inner wisdom will reveal the answers. Acting with love and staying out of fear through every twist and turn of this journey keeps me open and available to abundantly receive beyond the appearances in any given moment. It’s truly exciting to know I have a choice about how to live with uncertainties—and even more exciting to be able to thrive in the process.
Tama Kieves was a Harvard-trained attorney at a prestigious corporate law firm when she quit to become a writer, speaker, and career/success coach. Of her four books, the newest is Thriving Through Uncertainty: Moving Beyond Fear of the Unknown and Making Change Work for You, published by TarcherPerigee in January. Kieves speaks and leads retreats internationally and is on the faculty of the Omega Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and the Esalen Institute. She’s also taught A Course in Miracles for more than 28 years. Visit tamakieves.com.