If there has ever been something in this life that is certain, it is the presence of uncertainty.
Uncertainty is as certain as death, taxes, and wait-times on customer service calls. So, why do a reported 81% of Americans stress out over Global Uncertainty? Global Uncertainty is a phrase that basically means there are wars, economics, politics, religion, and crisis points around the world and most of them are beyond our control.
Our brains are hard-wired to constantly try to predict what will happen next, allowing them to prepare us most effectively. Our brains have a desire for more information about the future. The brain craves this knowledge and information like we crave sustenance, sex, and financial gains. Our brains see ambiguity as a threat, trying to protect us by focusing on anything but certainty.
In uncertain situations, that process is a lot harder. But when we respond to current uncertainties with the same level of passion as our response to threats, we create a disastrous situation within our souls.
When our plans go as planned, we feel in control. But when our plans go awry and throw a curveball at us, it can leave us feeling anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed.
It seems pretty counterintuitive, but embracing uncertainty is the key to overcoming its stress. We must learn to lean into the uncertainty, acknowledging that it is always there and yet reminding ourselves that we can cope with it and overcome its negative impact on our wellness and peace.
Here are 4 Ways to Overcome the Stress Associated with Uncertainty
- DON’T FIGHT IT
We are living through the most challenging of times. But resisting our reality won’t help us overcome, learn, grow, or be at peace. Fighting the existence of uncertainty, believing you can somehow accomplish what nobody else has ever done – escape all uncertainty – actually will prolong our pain and challenge by intensifying the problematic emotions we are feeling. So here is a powerful truth that most of us should plaster on our mirrors:
What We Resist Persists–Carl Jung
Instead of resisting, we can work hard on acceptance. Researcher Kristin Neff has shown that acceptance—particularly self-acceptance—is a counterintuitive secret to happiness. Acceptance is about meeting life where it is and moving forward from there.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you won’t feel frustrated any longer by the state of things. A considerable part of acceptance is how we feel about difficult circumstances and people in our daily lives.
But hear me loud and clear! Acceptance is not the same as resignation. Accepting a situation doesn’t mean that it will never get better. We don’t accept that things will stay the same forever; we only accept whatever is happening.
“Practicing acceptance in the face of difficulty is hard, and it’s also the most effective way to move forward.”–Dr. Ron Young
2. DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT YOU THINK
My good friend, Julie Homrich, taught me this lesson. Our brains have a natural negativity bias. When it craves closure and acceptance, it constantly tells you that you are in danger because everything is not under your control. Now, indeed, we all have varying degrees of tolerance regarding uncertainty and stress. We all can think beyond the brain’s initial assumption. The negativity bias in our brain says that because we do not know everything or control everything, we are in trouble, and life is spinning out of control. When we speak into that bias with truth, we offer things like – But it very well might end better. Or I can work to have a better outcome. Maybe try this one. I’ve been in a mess before, and I’m still standing. My favorite is another word in Julie’s toolbox, “YET.” We may be in a mess now, but that is because we aren’t at the end of the story yet.
Don’t Believe Everything That You Think–Robert Fulghum
3. SEEK SUPPORT FROM THOSE YOU TRUST
Notice that I did not write, seek support from those you like. To embrace uncertainty and live with less stress and more peace, we need people who will speak truth into our life, not simply agree with us or commiserate with us.
For example, I was about 35 years old when I made this statement to a business acquaintance, “I’m so tired of being tired.” Most people would have agreed and complained along with my gloom, but he said, “so, what are you going to do about it?” Man, that ticked me off. But he knew exactly what I needed. He is still a dear friend after all these years. If you don’t have that kind of person in your life, seek them out like a desert wanderer seeks out water.
If you can, find a coach, counselor, or therapist. Everyone can benefit from a coach, counselor, or therapist – even you!–Chuck Allen
4. TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE
This is the most challenging tactic on the list. When battling through uncertainty, we must learn the correct language to speak in our lives! If your friend or child faced a challenge, would you tell them, “yep, the sky is falling?” No, you would try to offer your best and most helpful advice. Give yourself that same talk. You are the keeper of your attitude and actions. You have the power within you to defeat the brain’s negativity bias. You control that and beat that by speaking truth that includes past wins, present opportunities, and the fact that the universe is not conspiring against you. You are one of the billions of people battling through something today, and should the Divine determine to wake you up in the morning, you’ll go to battle once again.
GIVE YOURSELF YOUR BEST ADVICE!–Chuck Allen
Yes, uncertainty is unavoidable, but you have been created to embrace and overcome the strain and stress that are often related to it. You were not created to know everything, not even close! You will never control every aspect of your life, but you can control how you face it. I want to encourage you to—
- DON’T FIGHT IT
- DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING THAT YOU THINK
- SEEK SUPPORT FROM THOSE YOU TRUST
- GIVE YOURSELF YOUR BEST ADVICE!
Go in Peace, Chuck