5 Ways to Deal Well With Uncertainty


By Liggy Webb

It can be a dark place, not knowing and uncertainty can fuel fear; anxiety and paralysis, which may well inhibit your ability to cope well in times of constant flux and volatility.

Your brain essentially is hardwired to react to uncertainty with fear. As you face uncertainty, your brain could so easily push you to overreact and imagine a whole host of negative scenarios. The ability to be able to override this reaction and move your thinking into a more rational and positive direction is key in terms of coping well in uncertain and ambiguous times.

There are many ways that you can help yourself to cope with uncertainty and here are a my top five suggestions:

1. Avoid crystal ball gazing

Sometimes a fertile imagination can be your own worst enemy and you may find yourself, when there is a lack of information, filling in the blank spaces anyway. If you are not careful you may take out your imaginary crystal ball and start to “catastrophise” about the future and imagine the very worst case scenario. You cannot possibly predict the future; you can however feel less anxious by fostering positive thoughts about the alternative possibilities and maintain a balanced perspective.

2. Manage your inner control freak

Let’s face it we all like to be in control, however, in some situations you have to put your trust in others’ hands. For example, if you found out that you were going to be made redundant or you were diagnosed with an illness you would need to accept that you couldn’t just wave a magic wand and make the situation go away. It would be impossible to be totally in control of absolutely every situation in your life. You run the risk of putting your body under immense stress if you focus on trying to control things that are out of your control. Acceptance can be a helpful way of helping you to channel your energy into ways to influence and support your situation.

 3. Avoid the doom and drama

As George Harrison once lamented “Gossip is the Devil’s radio!” and in times of uncertainty there will be lots of gaps of information, which some people like to fill in anyway. Uncertainty can create a playground for the doom mongers who perversely enjoy stoking up any negativity they can. 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 and make you feel anxious. Drama is draining and balancing your exposure to negative media and it is far more helpful to 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.

 4. Stay positive

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 flip side there will always be a more hopeful alternative. Give your wandering mind a little help by consciously selecting something positive to think about. Create a peaceful sanctuary in your mind by focusing on a happy memory or a dream for the future that will refocus your attention.

5. Get on with it!

The best antidote for anxiety is 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 a difficult process, especially if you you feel that you don’t have enough information. 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 is simply a learning opportunity in disguise.

When nothing is sure, everything is possible

Margaret Drabble

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