How to deal with uncertainty
It’s safe to say that we currently live in a world where we don’t know what could happen next.
The last year has certainly challenged our perception of what is safe, true and believable.
And I’m not just talking politics or viruses.
We now live in a world that moves so fast we don’t have time to figure out what’s happened before we’re faced with making monumental decisions for the future.
- You walk in on Friday and find out your department has been reorganized and you may lose your job.
- You go in for your regular annual checkup and your doctor orders a slew of immediate tests.
- Your spouse informs you that the relationship is over and they are moving out…today.
Some days can feel like those old Road Runner cartoons.
As soon as Wile E. Coyote thought he had defeated the Road Runner and turned to face the camera with a sly grin, a giant rock dropped on his head and pushed him in the ground.
Like Wile E. Coyote, you can squeeze out from under that rock and keep going for another day, albeit dazed and confused.
But how do you handle uncertainty without losing your peace?
First, take a deep breath and hold off on any decisions right now.
We are most vulnerable when events and circumstances are currently still swirling. You may want to react in several different ways, and I’m guessing they’re all pretty reactive.
Or you may get pressure from others to do something or else you might lose something.
If you make a reactive decision now, you may cut yourself off from a healthier decision from having more information.
It’s a terrible feeling to react to something based on strong emotions and find out later that a better answer was just ahead of you.
Slow yourself down and don’t commit to any decision in this moment.
Spend some time gathering data and facts so you can see all of your options. This has the advantage of cooling off your emotions a bit so you can make a decision that is both logical and from your heart.
Second, resist the urge to complain.
This is hard to do anymore because we are surrounded by so many forums that allow us to “speak our truth.” We can even tell total strangers of the evils that have befallen us and how we’ve been cheated.
Complaining, while having a great ventilation effect, mostly serves to maintain the uncertain feelings. Complaining isn’t about telling your story to find meaning and to investigate what you could have done differently in the situation.
Complaining puts you in the martyr seat, the victim of things you can’t control.
How does that put you on a path from uncertainty to peace?
Talk with a trusted friend (or a therapist, just sayin’) and process your uncertain events and challenges. This is what helps you discover your options.
But when it starts to get whiney, use your best self awareness skills to dial it back so your circumstances don’t steal your peace.
Third, take each day as it comes.
We modern westerners are terrible at just dealing with today. Challenges come and our immediate reaction is to play the movie all the way to its dramatic ending.
This is a great recipe for anxiety.
In all of your worry right now about politics, pandemics, or your own family challenges, are you aware that you are breathing without thinking about it at all?
That’s happening right now in this moment, and that’s amazing!
To find some peace in the most uncertain times, you have to focus on what’s literally right in front of you.
In the midst of a currently waging battle, you won’t find a military force thinking about the implications of this battle on future conflicts. That’s a good way to get your butt kicked.
If you spent time gathering information and doing some healthy processing with someone else, then your next task is to focus on those things you can influence right now.
Not tomorrow, not next week or next month. Those timeframes will get here whether you are thinking about them or not.
You get to make that decision to find peace in your uncertainty.
Peace is an active pursuit, not just something that happens to you.
- What can I do today with what I have right now?
- Who do I need to pull in to ask for help?
- What do I need to do to remind myself to make a decision for peace?
Lori R. Miller is an author and licensed mental health counselor in Stuart, FL.
Check out her latest book, 31 Days of Mental Health Moments at www.mymentalhealthmoment.com.