Uncertainty and concerns about the future are constant companions throughout life. While many factors remain out of your control, maintaining a positive frame of mind is essential for dealing with tough situations and being confident in the face of the unexpected.
The significance of uncertainty in one’s life
We live in an uncertain world, and this has never been truer than it is now. Whether it’s a worldwide epidemic, the economy, or your own money, health, and relationships, much of what lies ahead in life is still up in the air. Nonetheless, as human beings, we want for safety. We want to feel secure and in command of our own lives and well-being as much as possible. Fear and uncertainty may leave you feeling worried, nervous, and helpless in the face of your life’s unfolding circumstances. In addition to draining your emotional reserves, it may lock you in a downward cycle of countless “what-ifs” and worst-case scenarios about what tomorrow may hold.
We are all different when it comes to how much uncertainty we can handle in our lives. People appear to love taking chances and living unpredictable lives, while others find the unpredictability of life to be profoundly upsetting and debilitating. But we all have a limit to what we can do. The fact that you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by uncertainty and anxiety is very significant; many of us are experiencing the same feelings. The realization that, no matter how helpless and hopeless you may feel, there are measures you can take to better cope with uncontrolled situations, relieve your anxiety and confront the unknown with more confidence is also essential.
Acquiring the ability to deal with ambiguity
Uncertainty is a natural and inevitable aspect of life, despite the fact that we may not want to recognize it. There is very little that is consistent or completely guaranteed in our lives, and although we have some influence over many aspects of our life, we cannot control everything that occurs to us. As the coronavirus pandemic showed, life may alter in an instant and in an unexpectedly unpredictable manner. Things may be going swimmingly one day, and the next you could find yourself unexpectedly ill, out of work, or struggling to put food on the table or care for your family.
Many of us use worrying as a coping mechanism to deal with all of the uncertainty by attempting to anticipate the future and prevent unpleasant shocks. Having a fearful attitude can give the impression that you have some control over a difficult situation. You may think that it will assist you in identifying a solution to your issues or that it will prepare you for the worst case scenario.
It’s possible that if you fret over an issue for long enough, think over every option, or read every viewpoint available on the internet, you’ll come up with a solution and be in control of the result. Sadly, none of this is effective at all. Constant worrying will not offer you any more control over uncontrolled occurrences; instead, it will deprive you of pleasure in the present, deplete your energy, and keep you up at night. However, there are more healthy methods to deal with uncertainty, and the first step is to change your perspective on the situation.
The following suggestions may assist you in the following areas:
Concentrate on gaining control over the things that are under your power.
Face your insatiable need for clarity.
Develop the ability to better accept, if not embrace, the inevitability of change in your life.
You can lower your levels of worry and tension.
Tip 1: Take control of the things that are within your power.
Much in your life is unknown right now—and many things are still out of your control, which is frustrating. However, even if you have no influence over the spread of a virus, the recovery of the economy, or whether or not you will get a paycheck next week, you are not completely helpless.
If you are experiencing any worries or difficulties in your personal life, instead of worrying about the uncontrollable, try to concentrate your thoughts on taking action over the parts of your life that are under your control.
Suppose you’ve lost your job or income at this tough time. You still have control over how much energy you devote to job hunting online, sending out resumes, and networking with your existing connections. Similarly, if you’re concerned about your health or have received a recent diagnosis, you may still take steps to improve your situation by reducing your stress levels, reaching out to loved ones for support, and controlling your symptoms.
In this manner, you may transition from unproductive worrying and ruminating to active problem-solving by concentrating on the elements of an issue that you can influence. Of all, every scenario is unique, and you may discover that the only thing you have control over in certain instances is your attitude and emotional reaction.
Dealing with your emotions in a proactive manner
In situations when you have little control over the outcome, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by dread and other unpleasant emotions. Keeping your emotions bottled up, attempting to put on a brave face, or pushing oneself to be optimistic are all strategies that some people use to achieve their goals. Denying or repressing your emotions, on the other hand, will simply raise your tension and worry, making you more susceptible to depression and burnout.
Even when there is nothing more you can do to change a situation, you may still actively confront your feelings, even the most unpleasant and frightening ones. In this manner, allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable with ambiguity may help you decrease stress, better understand your surroundings, and discover a sense of serenity while you face difficult situations.
Tip 2: Examine your need to know everything.
Uncertainty and change are unavoidable aspects of life, and we frequently develop coping mechanisms to alleviate the pain they may cause. In addition to running over every conceivable situation in your head, you might do the following:
Excessive reliance on other people for reassurance. You constantly consult with friends or family members to ensure that you are making the best choice possible, you do endless internet research, and you seek expert counsel in an attempt to eliminate ambiguity from your life.
People should not be micromanaged.
You are adamant about not delegating duties to others, whether at work or at home. You may even attempt to alter the conduct of others around you in order to make their behavior more predictable for you.
If you don’t make any choices, you’re hoping to escape the uncertainty that will surely ensue. You’ll come up with creative methods to delay or postpone taking action—or perhaps avoid some circumstances entirely—in an effort to prevent unpleasant things from occurring to you.
Check everything on a regular basis.
You communicate with your family, friends, or children on a regular basis to ensure that they are safe. When it comes to preparing to send an email, SMS, or form, you double-check lists to make sure you haven’t overlooked anything that may have an impact on the predictability of the future.
What to do when confronted with these actions
By asking yourself the following questions, you may put a stop to the habits you’ve developed to cope with the discomfort of uncertainty.
What are the benefits of having a degree of certainty? What are the drawbacks of this approach? In a split second, life may change, and it is full of unexpected occurrences and surprises—but that is not necessarily a negative thing. A wonderful thing happens out of nowhere for every bad event that happens, such as a car accident or a severe medical prognosis.
Examples include receiving a dream job offer, receiving a surprise salary raise, or receiving a phone call from an old friend who lives across the country. Opportunity often emerges as a result of the unexpected, and having to deal with uncertainty in your life may also help you learn to adapt, overcome obstacles, and build your resilience in the process. It has the potential to assist you in your personal development.
Is there anything in life that you can be completely confident of?
Is there anybody out there who has a job for life, a guarantee of good health, or complete assurance about what will happen tomorrow? Worrying, micromanaging, and delaying are all behaviors that provide the impression of having some control over a problem, but in fact, they do nothing to alter the issue. Reality is that no matter how hard you try to plan and prepare for every potential scenario, life will always find a way to throw a wrench in your plans. All that seeking for clarity actually does is to increase worries and distress.
Do you make the assumption that terrible things will happen just because the result is unclear? What is the probability that they will? The tendency to overestimate the probability of something terrible happening—and to underestimate your capacity to cope if it does—occurs when you’re confronted with uncertainty. Does it make sense to accept the tiny possibility that something terrible may happen, even in these dangerous times, and instead concentrate on the more probable outcomes? Inquire with your friends and relatives about their experiences dealing with uncertainty in particular situations. Would you be able to do the same?
It is possible to begin to let go of bad habits, decrease stress and anxiety while freeing up time and energy to devote to more practical pursuits by questioning your desire for certainty.
Tip 3: Acknowledge and accept the possibility of failure.
No matter how hard you try to remove uncertainty and volatility from your life, the reality is that you already live with a great deal of ambiguity on a daily basis. With every step you take across a street, every time you get in your vehicle, and every bite of takeaway or restaurant food, you are accepting a certain amount of risk. You’re placing your faith in the fact that the traffic will stop, that you won’t get into an accident, and that everything you’re eating is safe.
Because the likelihood of anything terrible occurring in these conditions is low, you accept the risk and go on without insisting on absolute assurance. If you’re religious, you’ve probably come to terms with the fact that you’ll always have some level of doubt and confusion.
In the midst of unreasonable concerns and anxieties, it may be difficult to think rationally and correctly assess the likelihood of anything terrible occurring. The following actions may assist you in being more tolerant of and accepting of uncertainty:
Identify the events that cause you to be unsure. A great deal of uncertainty is created by the individual, whether via excessive anxiety or a gloomy perspective, for example, However, uncertainty may be created by other sources, which is particularly true during times like these.. Reading news articles that emphasize the worst-case scenario, spending time on social media among rumors and half-truths, or just conversing with worried friends may all serve to exacerbate your own worries and doubts, according to the American Psychological Association.
As a result, when terrible news comes, a large number of individuals start panic-buying because they see others do likewise. This just serves to exacerbate their own concerns. By identifying your triggers, you may take steps to prevent or minimize your exposure to them. Identifying your triggers is the first step.
Recognize when you are experiencing a desire for assurance. Be alert for the signs that you are beginning to feel worried and frightened about a scenario, that you are beginning to worry about what-ifs, or that you are beginning to believe that the situation is much worse than it really is. Look for the physicist.
Allow yourself to be free. Respond to the what-ifs that are racing through your mind by recognizing that you are not a fortune teller and that you have no way of knowing what will happen. There’s nothing you can do except let go and realize that uncertainty is an inevitable part of life.
Change the focus of your attention. Concentrate on solvable concerns, taking action on the parts of a situation that you have control over, or just return to what you were doing before you became anxious. When your thoughts return to worrying or your emotions of insecurity resurface, bring your attention back to the present moment and your own breathing.
Accepting uncertainty does not imply that you do not have a strategy.
Accepting uncertainty does not imply that you should not have a strategy in place to deal with some of life’s unexpected events. Have some money set aside in case of unforeseen expenditures, have a disaster preparation kit on hand if you live in an earthquake or hurricane-prone region, and have a plan in place in the event that you or a loved one becomes sick or becomes disabled. However, it is impossible to anticipate every potential situation. Life is just too unexpected and random to be taken seriously.
Tip #4: Keep your attention on the now.
Uncertainty is often associated with concerns about the future and all of the negative events that you might foresee occurring. Having a bad day may leave you feeling dismal and sad about the days ahead, exaggerate the extent of issues you are facing, and even prevent you from taking action to solve a problem.
Concentrating on the now is one of the most effective strategies to prevent thinking about the future. Instead of attempting to anticipate what may happen in the future, focus your attention on what is now taking place. Because you are completely present in the moment, you can stop the negative assumptions and catastrophic predictions that are now circulating in your mind.
Mindfulness is a technique that teaches you to deliberately direct your attention to the present moment. With regular practice, mindfulness may help you shift your focus away from worrying about the future and toward a greater appreciation of the present moment—as well as help you quiet your mind, relieve stress, and improve your general state of mind.
Following an audio meditation or integrating mindfulness into an activity program, such as walking, are two ways to get started with a mindfulness practice. Perseverance is required while practicing mindfulness in order to be present in the moment. Initially, you may find that your thoughts keep returning to your concerns and worries about the future—but persevere. As soon as you bring your attention back to the present moment, you are establishing a new mental habit that will eventually help you break free from uncertainty.
Tip 5: Learn to cope with stress and worry.
Taking efforts to decrease your overall stress and anxiety levels may assist you in interrupting the downward spiral of negative thoughts, finding inner peace, and better coping with the unpredictability in your life, among other benefits.
Get your body moving. In addition to being an excellent stress reliever and anti-anxiety therapy, exercise has other benefits. Consider including a mindfulness component into your workout and paying attention to how your body feels as you move. While walking, running, or dancing, pay attention to the sensations that your feet make contact with the ground; the rhythm of your breathing; or the touch of the sun or breeze on your skin, among other things.
Make time for yourself to unwind. Choose a relaxation method such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises and make an effort to devote some time each day to regular practice of that approach.
Make sure you get enough sleep. When you are anxious or stressed, excessive concern and uncertainty may cause you to have trouble sleeping. On the other hand, a lack of quality sleep can exacerbate anxiety and stress. It is possible to sleep better at night if you improve your daily routines and set aside some time to rest and unwind before going to bed.
Consume nutritious foods. Eating nutritious meals may assist you in maintaining your energy levels and preventing mood swings and depression. Avoid sugary and processed foods, and aim to include more omega-3 fats in your diet, such as those found in salmon, walnuts, soybeans, and flaxseeds, to improve your general mood.