How to live well with uncertainty

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Written by Liggy Webb on 26 February 2021 in Features
Features

Uncertainty still playing a big part in your life? Liggy Webb is here to help you.

Uncertainty in many ways is the refuge of hope and with the vaccine being rolled out we can at least start to imagine how much better our lives will be as each day unfolds. There is however still so much uncertainty and speculation about, and our imaginations - if we are not careful - could start to spiral into negative overdrive.

We may well find ourselves speculating about the future and filling in all the missing gaps of information with the worst-case scenarios of what may happen. By doing this we will start to worry and get anxious about things that haven’t even happened yet and that we don’t have any control over.

Is this something you are finding yourself doing with everything that is going on?

If so, it is important to be aware that uncertainty can fuel fear; anxiety and paralysis, which will inhibit your ability to cope well in times of flux. Your brain essentially is hardwired to react to uncertainty with fear. As you face uncertainty, your brain could so easily push you to overreact.

The ability to be able to override this reaction and move your thinking into a calmer and more rational direction is fundamental in terms of dealing with uncertainty and the associated anxiety that can be triggered.

Focusing our minds on what is within our control and the hope that is on the horizon will help us all to live well in uncertain times.

There are many ways that you can help yourself to cope with uncertainty and here are some suggestions:

Focus on what you can control 

Let’s face it most of us like to be in control; however, in some situations you have to put your trust in others’ hands. Currently we are being asked to live in a way that is highly restrictive, and this will challenge your inner control freak!

It is important to bear in mind, that if you do this, you run the risk of putting yourself under immense stress if you focus on trying to control things that you can’t. Right now, we need to listen to the advice we are being given to keep ourselves and other people safe.

Acceptance in this situation is by far the best approach so that you use your valuable energy to positively influence your situation rather than resist it.

Be positive and manage your mind chatter

One of the great benefits of positive thinking is that it can quiet the fear and irrational mind chatter by focusing your thoughts on something that is more calming. Thoughts are powerful triggers for emotions and for every negative niggling doubt that you have; on the flipside there will always be a more hopeful alternative.

 

Give your wandering mind a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Create an inspiring sanctuary in your mind by focusing on a happy memory or a dream for the future that will refocus your attention.

Avoid crystal ball gazing and catastrophising

Sometimes a fertile imagination can be your own worst enemy and you may find yourself getting lost in your own feelings. If you are not careful you may take out the imaginary crystal ball and start to 'catastrophise' about the future. You cannot possibly predict the future; you can however feel less anxious by fostering positive thoughts about the alternative possibilities.

Avoid the doom and drama as much as you can

Uncertainty can create a playground for the doom goblins and drama queens who perversely enjoy stoking up negativity. They will be predicting all sorts of doom and gloom and if you get absorbed in the gossip, scaremongering and toxicity it will drag you down, drain your valuable energy and make you feel anxious.

Balance your exposure to negative media and remove yourself from environments wherever possible where this kind of behaviour is rife. You don’t have to listen to it and you certainly don’t have to be part of it. That is entirely your choice.

Get creative

Having more opportunities to express your creativity will help you to keep enthusiastic and motivated about possibilities.

Creative people also tend to be more optimistic and resilient. Engaging in a creative activity just once a day can lead to a more positive state of mind. Through this very challenging situation that we are experiencing we also have an opportunity to explore, discover, learn and grow.

Take action

Uncertainty can have quite a paralysing effect as you may feel that with lack of information you simply don’t know which way to turn! Decision making on occasions can be an agonising process, especially if you have a very analytical mind and you feel that you are not well informed enough.

Uncertainty, on some occasions, may mean that you don’t necessarily make the right decision. However, don’t let that put you off, sometimes even a wrong decision is better than no decision, and besides, a mistake sometimes is simply a learning opportunity in disguise.

In Summary

With so much change going on in the world, learning to cope and live well with uncertainty is key. Focusing our minds on what is within our control and the hope that is on the horizon will help us all to live well in uncertain times.

"Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later" - Bob Goff

Please do email me liggy@liggywebb.com if you have any feedback or any questions.

 

About the author

Liggy Webb is a resilience and wellbeing expert and the founder of the Learning Architect.

 

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