Last month I shared with you things you can control and things you can’t. Today I would like to take a different approach and look at certain strategies you can implement to help you live with uncertainty.
Our brains perceive ambiguity as a threat so we will do whatever we can to create some sense of certainty. We have all experienced this behaviour in some way during the pandemic. So how would it be if we learnt instead to live with ambiguity? Here are 7 strategies that might help
1. Don’t resist
Instead of resisting what would happen if you moved to practice acceptance? Acceptance is about meeting life where it is and moving forward from there. What that means is we surrender to the problem situation and to our emotions about the situation. This does not mean resigning to the way things are. Instead, we accept things as they are while knowing we can always work to improve the situation or find ways of moving forward.
2. Invest in yourself
The best resource you will always have is YOU! If we feel depleted, if our spirit is low, or we have deferred self-maintenance – ie lack of sleep, not eating well, not having any down time – we will not be leading the best version of ourselves. Self-care and personal growth are the most healthy things we can do for ourselves.
3. Find healthy ways to comfort yourself
Instead of turning to social media, junk food, alcohol, or spending to soothe our rattled nerves, we do better when we can comfort ourselves in healthy ways. I reflect on gratitude – I really have so much to be grateful for. Or maybe I might take a little siesta, or take time out and read the next chapter in a novel I am currently reading. What do you do that is comforting for you?
4. Don’t believe everything you think
I have said this in numerous newsletters – we all have a tendency to believe thoughts that are limiting, that contain assumptions about how we see the world, and that are supportive of our inner voices. Instead of buying into these stressful thoughts, we can actively imagine the best possible scenario, the silver lining so to speak of the negativity in our thinking.
5. Pay attention
Interesting the opposite of uncertainty is not certainty. It is presence. Be present with your emotions. What are you feeling? Bring curiosity and acceptance to what you are feeling. We are not defined by any one moment, even though a single moment can be incredibly important. Instead, it comes back to the idea of creating a space where we can show up to ourselves with compassion. It is an opportunity for correspondence with our own heart.
6. Stop looking for someone to rescue you
When we feel powerless, or trapped, we start to hope other people will save us from our misery. The interesting point here is that rescuers tend to give us permission to avoid taking responsibility for our own lives. Instead, we need to find emotionally supportive friends (or coaches) who help us focus on our strengths in solving our own problems. When we take responsibility for our lives, we trade the false power of victimhood for the real power that comes from creating the life we want.
7. Find meaning in the chaos
Meaning in our lives is found around our purpose, value and impact. Meaning and purpose are wellsprings of hope. When we feel the world is scary or uncertain, knowing what meaning we have for others and feeling a sense of purpose can ground us better than anything else. Don’t be resigned to your misery while we wait for the situation to resolve itself. What outcome are you hoping for? How can you create that life during times of uncertainty?
During my student years, my marketing professor – who I had for four marketing units – reminded every class, every day, that the only certain thing in life was change. Change will always bring a degree of uncertainty as we cannot know the future however I hope the 7 strategies above will bring you a sense of comfort, acceptance and support.
Adapted from: “7 strategies to help you live with uncertainty”, by Christine Carter , October 21, 2020 – https://ideas.ted.com/7-strategies-to-help-you-live-with-uncertainty/