Here's How to Cope With Uncertainty
The unknown is scary. And worrying about it can quickly lead you down a path of serious anxiety. Not only that, but this anxiety can paralyze you.
While the current uncertainty is leaving us all feeling a little bit out of control, this is your friendly reminder that a lot of life is uncertain. Coping with uncertainty isn’t just a right-now problem. In many aspects of life, it’s an ever-looming shadow, even without COVID-19 uncertainty.
This isn’t to freak you out.
It’s just to help you become more aware that while the uncertainty is definitely being thrown in our faces right now, it’s always there. And in the past, most of us have been able to handle it relatively well. This means that you are 100% capable of taking on the current situation. In other words, you’ve got this.
But I get it.
It’s overwhelming. And we could all use a little help coping once and a while. Being anxious about what’s next is completely okay.
Yet, before we dive into dealing with uncertainty and how you can tackle that major hurdle, let’s understand it better. Why do we hate the unknown so much? Why do we hate uncertainty?
Why Do We Hate Uncertainty & Change?
As humans, we crave comfort. We long for security.
Being able to predict the future falls within these confines. It all comes down to the survival mechanisms embedded within us. These mechanisms keep us alive. Thus, we automatically prefer comfort and security where we know we are safe and where we know we can count on food, shelter, water, and more.
Uncertainty and change don’t offer this. They offer unpredictability and a threat to our existence (at the extreme end of things).
A famous psychological study once asked undergraduate students to imagine that they had just completed a very tough exam. They didn’t know whether they passed or failed.
In combination with this, they were also told to imagine that a travel agency offered a discount travel deal that expired that very day. Yet, the students could pay a small fee to have the discount available to them the following day, exactly when they would know whether they passed or failed the exam.
Most students opted to pay the fee. Technically, they were willing to pay to find out their test results and avoid uncertainty before going on the discounted trip.
From this, it’s safe to say that many people are willing to pay to eliminate uncertainty from their lives. This goes to show just how important predicting the future is to us!
So, what can you do to begin coping with uncertainty? How can you get back into the driver’s seat of your life?
You will also really love: A Meditation to Find Peace in Uncertain Times
4 Tips for Coping With Uncertainty
1. Focus on What You Can Control
There is a line between what you can control in your life and what’s completely out of your control. Even in times of great uncertainty, there is still a lot within your control.
For instance, you control your morning routine, what you eat throughout the day, how you choose to react to situations, and more. There’s a lot that you can still manipulate and use to work toward your goals in life.
Yes, some of those may be on pause but not necessarily all of them!
Focusing on what you can control places the power of the future back in your hands. It allows you to predict what you can and quit stressing about what you can’t. This is something that we all need a little more of, especially right now.
2. Practice Mindfulness & Being Present
Being anxious about what’s next involves looking into the future. But what about right here and right now? When we are so focused on the future and “what might come next,” we become consumed and focused on uncertainty.
Be present. Become mindful of what’s going on around you or perhaps what your friend or family member is currently telling you.
Sometimes, coping with uncertainty involves simply reeling in your thoughts about the future and instead focusing on the present moment. After all, this is also the only thing you can currently control.
This can further strengthen your relationships since you will be able to connect better within the moment.
We publish a daily guided meditation that helps soothe your soul, calm your mind, and guide your day with intention. Listen to your free, guided meditation right now.
3. Write it Out
Worried? Write it down!
This is often called a brain dump. Grab a piece of paper and pour your thoughts out on them. This means anything and everything that’s worrying you.
Coping with uncertainty might come down to simply managing and pinpointing those feelings of “overwhelm.” And writing it out is a sure-fire way to help make those disappear or ate least, reduce ‘em!
4. Determine the Outcomes & Decide What You Would Do
When all else fails, determine your “what ifs.” Imagine them happening, and imagine what you would do if they did. This can help you feel better about worst-case scenarios.
Often, we build these up in our heads and let our thoughts and feelings get away from us. And shoving your worries aside can sometimes make you stress even more.
So, address them head-on.
Ask yourself what would happen if this happened, then ask yourself what you would do. Keep going until you run out of answers. Usually, by this time, you feel better.
Embrace the Uncertainty of Life
The level of uncertainty in all of our lives right now isn’t ideal. But you can become stronger because of it. Navigating through it will make you more resilient in the long run.
You have a choice.
You can let the fear overwhelm you, or you can take action and focus on what you can control, write it out, become more mindful, and go through the possibilities if you need it. We’re all in this together right now.
We’ll get through it!
Related article: Why You Need to Build Resilience