Uncertainty is something we all have to deal with in our daily lives – whether you are waiting to hear back after a job interview or find that you are constantly worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. Typically, feelings of uncertainty are met with a great deal of stress, anxiety, and tension. This is often due to the fact that it’s within our nature to crave certainty, as uncertainty regarding the future can actually ‘generate a strong threat or alert response in your limbic system’.
Therefore, in order to take better care of our mental health, we often cling to certainty – to things that are concrete and immovable. However, if the past year has taught us anything – this is not always possible. The world around us is constantly changing – often in ways that we cannot predict. Therefore, during the times when uncertainty is rife, it’s important that you know how to deal with uncertainty so that it does not consume your every waking moment. Instead, uncertainty should be a passing thought that you are able to dismiss with precision and ease. Here are ways to deal with uncertainty.
Focus on things that are under your control
Feelings of intense uncertainty often arise when we feel as though a situation is beyond our control or that we will have little effect on the outcome. When we aren’t sure what will happen next, it’s only natural for our body to descend into panic. However, you can negate this by instead choosing to focus on what you can control. For example, you cannot really control what happens in a job interview – questions may take you by surprise, or another candidate may outshine you entirely. However, you can control how you appear in the interview by being prepared, enthusiastic, and attentive.
Put logical plans in place to deal with problems preemptively
We are often uncertain during situations where the final result is unclear. However, it’s likely that you may be able to predict certain events before they can occur. For example, if you feel as though your workload is going to change, you can put plans in place to improve your time management and delegation skills. That way, if things do go wrong and you find yourself overwhelmed at work, you already have a logical solution in place.
Figure out the root of your uncertainty
While we are not able to avoid uncertainty 100% of the time, you should not be feeling this way constantly. Therefore, if uncertainty becomes a common fixture in your daily routine – this is a clear sign that you need to enact real change in your life. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can achieve this goal. For example, you could attend therapy sessions that enable you to better understand your emotions. Not only will this support help you gain an understanding of feelings such as uncertainty and anxiety, but it can also help you understand why you feel that way in the first place. Knowing the cause of your uncertainty means that you are able to remove yourself from that situation moving forward.
Learn to embrace uncertainty
As mentioned previously, it’s only natural to recoil from uncertainty, especially regarding our future plans. However, you can lessen the impact that these feelings have on your mental state by learning to embrace uncertainty as opposed to running from it. Thankfully, there are various ways in which you can achieve this goal. For example, you can begin by reminding yourself that things will work out, even if they take an unexpected route to the finishing line. You can also start brainstorming potential outcomes whenever you find yourself in an uncertain situation.
Worry, but only a little
When uncertainty kicks in, it can often stick around for a little while – and you may find that you are consumed with worry or anxiety. In this case, our first instinct is to try and shut those worries away as soon as possible through distraction or procrastination. However, in some cases, it is actually much more beneficial to let yourself worry– but only a little while. For example, if you are worried about your finances, give yourself a small moment to let the internal panic out. Then, after around ten minutes, take a deep breath and move on to something more productive. This is a great way to address your feelings instead of waiting for them to go away on their own.
Talk to someone
We often tend to keep feelings such as stress, anxiety, and uncertainty to ourselves – especially within a professional setting. This is due to the fact that we often wish to present ourselves as strong, dependable individuals who can tackle anything that is thrown our way. In short, we don’t want those around us to think less of us. However, talking about how you are feeling is one of the easiest ways to combat uncertainty in your daily life. This is due to the fact that it is often met with reassurance and understanding. For example, if you talk to a colleague about uncertainty in the workplace, perhaps relating to imposter syndrome – they’ll likely respond by letting you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Sometimes, hearing this from someone else instead of yourself can make the world of difference – and help put uncertainty to bed for good.
In short, there are various steps you can take to combat uncertainty in your daily life – many of which revolve around the understanding that uncertainty is within itself, a certainty. We can never predict the future, and no amount of forward-planning can predict what will happen next with 100% accuracy. However, we can control the way in which we respond to that uncertainty so that it does not consume us entirely. For example, we can give ourselves a break, remove ourselves from negative situations or even reach out to a licensed therapist for support.