None of us know how our lives can transform overnight. In fact, we are always dealing with one of many outcomes that stemmed out of a situation.
Even with the best preparation, you can’t control every life situation. Not knowing the possibilities can cause psychological conditions like fear, anxiety and stress. Because uncertainty is distressing and instills fear, people want to control or eliminate it altogether.
Tips for Dealing with Uncertainty
Here are four essential tips for times when you are worked up by the uncertainty of life incidents:
1. Read Your Anxious Thoughts
Fear inhibits your decision-making abilities. To be good at dealing with uncertainty, you have to be wary of this fear and identify it as soon as it begins to surface. Your response to uncertainty entirely depends on your attitude towards the situation. Do not overanalyze the plausible outcomes, rather allow your anxious thoughts to flow. Observe what are the aspects that can captivate your mind, and find ways to resolve them.
By not intercepting your Anxious Negative Thoughts (ANTs), you can control your thinking and gradually become good at making sound decisions in the face of uncertainty. In this way, you can contain the fear of uncertainty before it gets out of control and impedes your self-confidence. Once you are aware of this fear, you can identify the irrational thoughts that try to intensify uncertainty as irrational fears in other stressful situations.
You can practice short mindfulness exercises to stay focused on the present, and make accurate and rational choices based on the information at hand. Throughout the exercises, remind yourself that the limbic system (a primitive part of the brain) is trying to influence your thoughts instead of the logical part.
2. Acknowledge the Idea of Uncertainty
People who worry about the unknown, often, want utmost clarity in all situations to pacify themselves. This helps them predict the future, so that can control the outcome and avoid unpleasant surprises. In reality, worrying about uncertain situations won’t stop them from occurring, but cause more distress. Your inability to tolerate uncertainty plays a huge role in experiencing anxiety and stress.
Constant speculation about life events leads to the culmination of irrational thoughts and negative feelings, that can lead to further contemplation about the future. Stop this cycle by recognizing the feeling, right when you find yourself worrying about the unknown. Remind yourself that you can’t possibly predict the future, but by fostering positive feelings, you can enhance the present.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine the problems of refusing to accept uncertainty:
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of being certain about the future?
- Do you tend to look for the worst-case situations only because the outcomes are uncertain?
- Is it possible to accept that something negative may happen? How are you going to deal with it?
- What is the likelihood of positive or neutral outcomes of a particular situation?
3. Swap Expectations with Action Plans
When you attach your expectations to people or situations, you are making yourself susceptible to experience disappointment. By expecting the worst, you are likely to have resentment towards the situation and the people involved in it. Remember, a closed-minded person will be consumed by ANTs, and won’t be able to seize the opportunities present in front of him/her.
If you expect the best to happen to you, creating a vision for your life can help you achieve it. Also, instead of expecting the future to offer you outlandish outcomes, focus on working on an action plan to work towards creating what you want to experience. Remember, the only sense of certainty that you can rely on is the fruition of your hard work into positive results. So, if you are curious about the probability of a favorable outcome, whatever it may be, research it. Study what are the chances of it happening, familiarize yourself with it. This can help you eliminate the fear of the unknown.
More often than not, you may come across situations where no matter how committed you are towards achieving your goal, circumstances may not work in your favor. This can be an emotional phase for someone who fears the uncertain. You may experience feelings of despair and dejection. To avoid experiencing such feelings, it is always good to have a backup plan in place. Following this practice can also help you put aside your worries related to the uncertainty about your goal. This is because you will already have an alternate plan to deal with an unfavorable outcome.
4. Focus on Honing Your Adapting Skills
Research shows that each day, people are faced with decisions that will impact not only an individual’s life, but also the lives of others. In fact, just in a single day, the average adult makes close to 35,000 decisions. And hence, you need to have an open-mind and adapt to the situations that may arise from these decisions. Reading too much between the lines can lead to frequent worrying about the unknown, and affect your decision-making skills. Remind yourself that you can deal with whatever is in store for you, both mentally and emotionally.
If you find yourself doubting the future possibilities, look back and think of an incident where you experienced anxiety related to uncertainty. Try to recollect how did you manage to recuperate from that feeling. Remind yourself that, if you made it through that situation, you are mentally strong to face another emotionally challenging phase.
On a positive note, uncertainty provides you the opportunity to transform yourself into someone you aspire to become. So, instead of fearing and fighting change, embrace the uncertain.
There is no denying that uncertainty is inevitable. No matter how hard you try, you can only contemplate the possible outcomes and the consequences that may come with them. Trying to control the uncertain will never work in your favor, and can actually hamper your mental health.
Instead, keeping an open mind can help you accept life as it unfolds and enjoy the experience. By controlling your activities in the present and relinquishing the rest, you can enjoy more and worry less.