We are often presented with situations in our life that are new and unfamiliar. These are the situations that breed stress and anxiety, but also the situations from which we can draw the most new knowledge, wisdom, and growth.
A new situation is stressful by the very fact that it is new. Old situations become familiar, and no longer generate much stress (provided you’ve learned how to approach and deal with them). Consequently, they lose their ability to inspire new breadths to our ways of approaching the world. Once you’ve learned how to deal with a situation, whatever it may be, it’s unlikely that you will generate new great new insight from addressing the same situation. You may very well develop new insight specific to that endeavour, but as I have mentioned before, working within the same situations will generally only provide you with the ability to generate new insight within the confines of your current set of knowledge.
So, how then do we deal with these new situations that generate stress? If the goal is to continue to pursue things that are outside of our comfort zone, we need to find ways to keep this stress manageable and to mitigate it. One of the angles that I apply in these situations is to seek out analogies.
In Law, we spend a great deal of our time attempting to draw analogies. New situations are constantly arising where there has not yet been existing law laid out that address the specific situation (since humans are dynamic and constantly evolving entities, it would be a contradiction to suggest that you could develop one set of laws that address all of the contingencies that could arise). In order to evolve our system of law, while keeping it coherent with what has already been laid out, it becomes essential to draw analogies from what the current set of facts to what has been decided in the past.
The same requirement applies to our own lives. We want (hopefully) to keep our working set of knowledge evolving, so that we may continue to evolve and develop cognitively. When we are presented with new situations that we are not comfortable with, it is important to look for analogies from which we can draw on our wisdom and experience to help us deal with the unfamiliar.
The ability to see and connect analogies from new situations to those we have dealt with in the past is one of the hallmarks of wisdom. Those able to apply their experience to each subsequent situation they encounter will better be equipped to deal with the stress and challenges that the new situations bring to the table.
Great wisdom is the ability to apply your working set of knowledge not only to the new situations in front of you, but to those contingencies that may or may not arise in the future. The more analogies that you can juggle in your head, and leverage to assist you in determining what the best path to take is, the better equipped you will be to make decisions, remain confident in those choices, and mitigate the stress that may attach itself.
When bumping up against new situations that are pushing you outside of your comfort zone, find a moment to take pause, be present and aware to how you are feeling, and seek out the analogies that may help you address what you are dealing with.