A lot of life’s greatest and most precious moments happen unexpectedly.
Uncertainty is that strange and uncomfortable feeling of unfamiliarity and not knowing what lies ahead. This usually leads our minds to wander and to imagine every possible outcome. During uncertain times, we usually fear the worst which can cause panic, anxiety, and stress.
However, as much as we want to have control and know what the future holds, this is not one hundred percent possible because change is inevitable. We never know what lies ahead.
We are living in unprecedented times. This is a time of so many questions without answers. Will I get infected? Will my loved ones get infected? Is my job stable? When will a vaccine be ready? When will life become normal again? All of these questions have uncertain answers. Although experts may have guesses or estimates for some of these questions we ask ourselves, there is no real guarantee.
But the good news is that we can learn to embrace uncertainty by developing certain mindsets and skill sets. These different approaches will help calm the mind chatter and feel more comfortable in facing uncertainty.
How can we embrace uncertainty?
So how do we embrace the uncertainty? The answer to this question will be different for each one of us.
Some find exercise and meditation a good way to slow down and be present. Others may prefer keeping a journal and writing down their thoughts. Talking things through with your loved ones or friend is another way to embrace uncertainty.
There are different ways we can cope with feeling uncertain. If you haven’t found which way works for you, here are a few ideas to help you get started.
Uncertainty is a certain thing. Life can seem predictable one minute then it throws you a curve-ball the next. We cannot know how everything will unfold and trying to will only cause us stress.
A lot of times, we tend to react to uncertainty by pretending it doesn’t exist in the first place. We may sweep the feelings of discomfort under the rug. However, this will not make those emoticons disappear. By not acknowledging uncertainty, we are doing more harm than good. By pushing these feelings of discomfort aside, we may act out in unhealthy ways and resort to external vices.
Rather than fighting against the aversive feelings, try to take a deep breath and acknowledge the way uncertainty makes you feel.
Prepare for Different Possibilities
One of the most difficult parts of uncertainty is that we are unable to plan for it. By looking at things from different angles, we can see each new perspective.
As we face uncertainty, our brain pushes us to overreact. Try looking at the different possible outcomes and have contingency plans for each outcome.
Experts at handling uncertainty aren’t afraid to admit that they could be wrong. This is why they choose to prepare for different outcomes and have contingency plans prepared.
But be careful here – incessant planning and rumination on ALL the possibilities out there can lead to more anxiety. Just be open, and if you can go a step further, curious to what possibilities could be out there, without attaching too much detail or spending too much time on it.
Go Through the Pain
When we take time to embrace uncertainty we are deliberately avoiding our usual instincts to avoid fear and suffering and, instead, turn towards them, to lean into them, to understand them.
Therefore leaning into pain also involves knowing when we need to look at the situation and when we need a break from it to build up our strength.
Whilst leaning into pain can be incredibly hard, the what we gain when we face these things that we are so used to running from, can bring a massive sense of relief, once we’ve taken the time to look at them.
Engaging with the current situation in a more thoughtful, compassionate, and ethical way, we have a real possibility of stepping off the hamster wheel and beginning to forge a different path.
Focus on What You Can Control
For a lot of us, we often overlook the small everyday things that we can do to make life easier and instead obsess about the big things we can’t control. Will I get infected by the virus? Is my job secure? Will I still have a job tomorrow?
Instead of asking all these big questions that are uncertain, try asking more practical questions that you know you can control.
Establish a daily routine that helps you move through your day. By creating a familiar routine, this will help you feel more grounded and in control in your life even when things feel uncertain.
Practice Mindfulness Meditation
One of the most effective ways to calm your mind chatter is through mindfulness meditation. It is taking a step back from all the external noise and going within, being present in the moment, and quieting the mind.
Buddhists have practiced mindful meditation – which is a type of meditation that involves focusing attention on the present moment, for centuries. It is difficult at first because our brain is wired to have thoughts coming and going. But practicing mindfulness can help you to appreciate the present and reduce worrying so much about the future.
Don’t Let Fear Control Your Life
Fear has always had a bad rep but fear is a very normal emotion and often an important protective mechanism. It’s when we allow it to paralyze us from taking any action that makes it loom large in our thinking and feeling. To know if you are letting fear stop you from what it is you truly want, ask yourself, “If I weren’t afraid, what would I be doing right now that will take me a step closer to what I truly want in life?”
Embracing Uncertainty Takes Time
The first thing about embracing uncertainty is to accept that it isn’t something you can do overnight. Accepting it takes time. When faced with uncertainty in life, we often find it incredibly painful and immediately try to resolve it as quickly as possible. This makes us act out of fear which most often than not, we tend to regret later on.
For example, we’re having a difficult time at work: quit. Our relationship is unstable: break-up. Our kids are disrupting our workday: reprimand them.
Whether our action involves lashing out, running away, or pulling back, these are quick responses that get us out of the painful uncertainty we are facing. So instead of reacting to what life throws at you, take a step back when you are faced with uncertainty. Look at it from all angles, don’t immediately react, and take a breather. You’ll find that by stopping yourself from your knee-jerk reaction, you’ll save yourself and others a lot of pain.
Uncertainty Can Be a Good Thing
Uncertainty has always had a bad reputation. People don’t like not knowing. They want to be in control and know what the future holds. But remember that not all uncertainty is bad. A lot of life’s most precious, amazing, and important moments happen unexpectedly, like meeting your soulmate, landing that dream job, bumping into a stranger who turns into a lifelong friend. These are all things that can happen without us planning for it.
Besides, having too much predictability in life would make it so much less exciting and would prevent us from enjoying new and exciting experiences. These experiences are what make us who we are today and what helps us grow and develop.
Remember, you can’t control everything, but by developing skills, practicing these methods and techniques, and finding the time to relax your mind, you’ll learn to embrace life’s uncertainties.
When we let go of the need to control everything, we allow ourselves to travel and wander into the forest and create our own path.
Let uncertainty be your opportunity to learn, grow, spread your wings, and move into another tomorrow full of endless possibilities.
“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”
~John Allen Paulos