“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” —Alan Watts
Panic, anxiety, fear… these are feelings that can surface when unsettled or uncertain. Uncertainty can come on with or without notice, and it can cause you to jump to conclusions and often assume the worst.
With technology taking over our communication interactions, even the simplest of situations, like not getting an immediate response to a text or email, can send us spiraling.
Maybe someone frowns at you or you don’t get invited to a neighborhood gathering. What do you do? Most likely, you assume the worst, which can actually help ease your brain because it offers some certainty.
Well, guess what? Uncertainty is certain. You can count on it. Resisting it doesn’t make it go away. Humans will still be unpredictable, and the world will still be unpredictable.
Many of us want to stay on the easy road. We want to stay with what we know. We are often afraid to try something new and we avoid change like we want to avoid getting hit by a bus.
If you are uncomfortable with uncertainty you probably run away from change. But where does that get you? There is a saying that you cannot stand in the same river twice. And that is life. We are always changing, nature changes, weather changes, and certainty changes too.
Think about wearing masks. A few months ago, if we saw someone with a mask, we looked at them like there was something wrong with them and avoided them. Now it is something we are comfortable seeing and we find we are looking at people who are not wearing the masks as if something is wrong with them.
That has happened with many things over the years. We do adapt to uncertainty and change. Here are a few things that you can do to keep your mind in a calmer place when faced with uncertainty:
Simply changing your language internally – or out loud – when you are facing something that is making you feel uneasy, you can shift your emotional reaction.
Try the “embrace 4 technique”: stop and take 4 breaths, each 4 seconds on the inhale and 4 seconds on the exhale. When you control your breathing, it sends a message to your brain that you are embracing the situation and that you are calm; no need to intervene, brain!
Ask yourself, is it the truth? Be honest with your answer and say the answer out loud. If you don’t know if the situation is true, then find out. Don’t let what other people say sway your knowledge or your answer. After all, they are most likely making things up too.
Whatever you do, don’t get your answer from the news. The news outlets’ main reason for existing is to sensationalize the news to cause you to have doubt and fear.
They don’t come on and say, “Everything’s going great. Go about your business.” If you are looking for the truth, then get your information from reputable experts and not little sound bites or gossip.
Do things that put you in a good frame of mind and remind yourself how amazing you are. Have you met yourself? If you forgot how amazing you are, take yourself out for a treat or buy yourself a little gift.
Choose an activity that slows your breathing. When you are breathing slowly and are calm, then your brain thinks you are relaxed and feeling great, and it doesn’t keep trying to protect you with fear.
Other things to do are meditation, writing down things you are grateful for, doing exercise like taking a walk or qigong. Even watching funny TV shows or videos on YouTube is a good way to laugh and relax.
Uncertainty can be a good thing.When your mind is made up before each new experience, you block your ability to learn and grow. Remind yourself of the surprises and gifts uncertainty can bring you and your tolerance will go up.
When your brain is certain of everything, it doesn’t need to do much work. Same old routine. However, science has shown that you learn more when your challenges are greater than your skills.
The brain is then open to absorb more information and make connections with what you already know. You are cultivating a growth mindset. And that moves you from uncertainty to certainty.
Accept what life delivers to your doorstep. Think of uncertainty like a big box from Amazon. A surprise gift! And treat yourself to the gifts you already have – like courage, connection, compassion, and curiosity.
Like in The Wizard of Oz, there will be unexpected obstacles and scary things that make you afraid. But in the end, you will find things are not as bad as you predicted, and you really do have everything you need to conquer your fears and find your certainty space.
My closing advice is to do something different. Choose one or all of the actions from above or think up some new ones that you can share. Make a list of things that you are doing to get through these uncertain times. Keep the list to yourself as a reminder or share it with friends and family.
When you write that list, add all of the ways or things that are positive about the changes that are taking place too. Just writing out your thoughts can shift you into instant calm.
What frightens you the most about the times we live in? Is it the uncertainty or something else? How do you find peace and calm when you are frightened? What do you do to cope with change that is inevitable? Please share with our community!