Uncertainty, for many, is unsettling. Of course, we don’t want every part of our lives to be formulaic and boring, but not being sure whether you can pay your bills each month, for example, can be anxiety-inducing. Most people have some type of everyday uncertainty — whether it’s financial, professional, personal or related to a relationship — but over the past several months, everything has changed.
Not only are we dealing with our usual sources of uncertainty, but then there’s the whole global pandemic, where we’re trying to stop the spread of a virus we have never seen in humans before. We’re not just in uncharted waters — we’re scrambling to stay afloat. As it turns out, there are ways to more effectively deal with feelings of uncertainty, and embrace what’s next with some level of confidence (even if it’s very low). Here are two strategies for handling uncertainty in a healthier way.
Reevaluate your expectations
It can be easy to feel like a failure when you measure yourself up against the accomplishments of others — especially traditional life milestones like finding a great job, travelling, buying a house, getting married or having kids. We can get caught up setting expectations for ourselves based on what we think we should be doing with our lives, even if it’s not what we actually want to do ourselves.
“Overcoming the hurdles put in our paths by ourselves and/or others is the first step in gaining clarity and getting in tune with our most natural decisions,” Robin Emmerich, author of “Love the Mess” tells KXAN, the NBC affiliate in Austin. When you have these expectations for yourself, it can cause uncertainty when you wonder if or when something is going to happen for you. Instead of putting this type of stress on yourself, let go of some of these expectations, so you can cut out the unnecessary uncertainty that comes along with them.
Worrying is not preparation
Uncertainty is typically accompanied by anxiety over what’s going to happen next. Some people try to get ahead of the uncertainty by worrying about the potential outcomes of a situation — as if by thinking about them before they happen can help prepare them for dealing with the result. As Dr. Bryan E. Robinson, a psychotherapist, writes for Psychology Today, our mindset is the one thing we can control in situations beyond our control: “Fear, panic, and worry are not preparation. They add insult to injury — another layer of stress.”
When it comes to dealing with uncertainty, telling someone (or yourself) not to worry about something isn’t the most effective or realistic approach. But reframing your mindset so you’re aware that worrying about something you can’t control actually isn’t helping, may actually help a little.