Right now I’m dealing with a great deal of uncertainty that’s completely out of my control. I’m anxiously awaiting a decision that will dictate if I can remain to live in Australia or must move back to the United States. I have alternative options in place in case the decision does not go in my favor but the uncertainty has added a great weight in my life and unnecessary stress. Although I feel uncertainty, I have to keep staying strong and remind myself that everything is okay right now and will be okay.
Whatever uncertainty you are facing, you might feel extremely stressed, alone and impatient about what is to come. Uncertainty can happen in all aspects of life. You might be feeling uncertainty about how to move forward after a rough breakup or divorce, uncertainty about a sudden decision you just made regarding which university you will attend or uncertainty about whether you will have a job in a month.
Remember you are not alone. Uncertainty can make you feel alienated. Not many people may be able to emphasize or relate to your situation at all. You might have loved ones who try to support you but they may not truly be able to understand how much stress and pain you are going through with your situation. Remember that even if you feel alone and like nobody can understand, there are people out there who can relate to your situation and are going through the challenges you are facing. Below are some steps you can take to help you overcome your uncertainty.
1. Accept that you don’t have control over everything. Part of the pain of uncertainty is wanting to control the situation and having some idea of what will happen. It’s easy to get too wrapped up into wanting to find ways to control the situation but it’s better to just let go of the idea of control. This doesn’t mean you are giving up or allowing yourself to be powerless. Letting go of the idea of control allows you to accept the situation calmly and accept that many aspects of your life is completely out of our control. Uncertainty is an element of life that you will always have to deal with. Accept that you will not always be in control of a situation.
2. Find a support group that can help you through this. You don’t have to cope with your uncertainty alone. Surround yourself with loved ones who are there for you and can help cheer you up when you are feeling down. Let your partner support you or spend more time with friends and family who make you smile and feel good about yourself. If you need to find someone who can relate to you, try to find support groups in your area. Depending on where you live, you might have access to groups who are dealing with similar issues or dealt with them and can share in your experiences. If there are no support groups in your area, then look for support online. There are usually online forums available with a wide range of people going through what you are.
3. Stay positive. I realize this is easier said than done but dreading about the worst-case scenario will not only cause you to deal with a tremendous amount of stress but your actions might negatively impact what happens. Let’s say you are feeling negative about starting a new job. You are dreading if you will like your new boss or if you will disappoint people and as a result you feel continually worse about the situation. You might start the new job feeling extremely nervous, trying too hard to impress people which may push people away and place too much pressure on yourself to measure up. As a result, you might under perform and not connect with any of your new co-workers. Staying positive allows you to act positively and be realistic. You don’t want to destroy any opportunities or even create a self-fulfilling prophecy by assuming the negatives. For all you know, you might get a positive answer to your problems tomorrow and all the worrying and negativity will be for nothing.
4. Have multiple options. You don’t have to prepare for the worst-case scenario but you can plan for other scenarios. When you move to a city, you can have a plan in place if you end up struggling to make friends. Perhaps you can have a few social groups on hand that you might be interested in checking out as an alternative. Let’s say the new job doesn’t end up working out and you don’t like it. That’s okay. Keep your resume fresh, continue networking and do your best at your job because you never know, things might get better with your work. When you worry that you might be out of money in the future, start having a backup plan in place now. Save for an emergency fund in case you are ever in a situation where you don’t have a source of income. Work on changing your spending habits so that you are continually saving some of your monthly income.
5. Keep moving forward. Whatever you do, don’t succumb to the uncertainty and give up. Take steps every day to stay in control and carry you further along your path. Resist the temptation to give into your emotions and give up because of fear of uncertainty. Giving up can often result in you feeling even more miserable and you will have a much harder time coping with the situation. Instead keep taking steps forward. Even though you cannot control everything, you can control what you do today and some parts of the journey.
6. Be aware of when you have dealt with uncertainty. You are most likely not dealing with uncertainty for the first time in your life right now. One of my earliest memories of uncertainty was the results of a test during primary school. I was nervous about my performance on the exam and how my mother would react if I received a bad grade and I was dreading what would happen for days. Since then I’ve dealt with so much uncertainty that it’s very difficult to keep track of those moments. However, it’s easy to remember that I made it through that uncertainty and I’m okay, more than okay actually. There were usually times where a positive outcome happened and everything worked out for the best. There were other times where a bad outcome happened but I made it through okay. Everything worked out fine. Uncertainty can be pretty scary but remember it’s not your first time dealing with this and it won’t be your last time. You will get through this because you always have in the past. Keep your head up and remember that you got this!
7. Cope with your stress in healthy ways. One of the ways I deal with uncertainty is with exercise. Just before writing this article I felt a wave of anxiety and fear and decided to run for an hour. I felt instantly better after doing the run. What helps you cope with uncertainty and stress? Try meditation, exercise, or even just getting out of the house and taking a walk or driving around the neighbourhood. Allow your mind to relax. Also avoid anything that you know will trigger your uncertainty. Limit your conversations with friends who tend to make you feel more worried about a situation. Avoid social media if the news feed or random posts tend to make you feel anxious. Create an environment where you can allow your body to deal with uncertainty in a healthy way.
8. Embrace what you can’t control. Who says that uncertainty is a bad thing? In many situations you can create wonderful opportunities out of uncertainty. When I was actively dating I felt uncertain about the process, what I was doing and if I would ever meet someone who I was compatible with. Dating was tough and a bit depressing at times. However, I decided to shift my thinking and view each date as an opportunity to meet someone, learn something new about someone else and myself and even if I made mistakes, I figured these mistakes helped me become one step closer to finding the right person for me. Uncertainty doesn’t have to be something we fear and run away from. Remember you can make the best decision you can now based on what you do know. Even if things are uncertain that’s okay. You can still move forward and you can even make mistakes, knowing that you will learn from your failures. You can even use uncertainty to understand how you can grow and develop yourself in the future. For instance, maybe you had a rough time finding jobs lately. Uncertainty can allow you to better prepare yourself in the future such as educating yourself, learning new skills and investing in yourself so that you can be more marketable in the future.
9. Trust yourself. Uncertainty can be very scary but don’t allow the fear to control your life. Starting a business for the first time may be filled with uncertainty but you need to trust your instincts. If you know that this is what you need to do, then do it. Have faith that you are following the right path for yourself. It’s better to face uncertainty heads on than to live a life filled with fear and regret.
10. Stay calm and appreciate what is happening around you. Take a moment to take deep, calm and controlled breaths. Continue focusing on your breathing until you feel calmer and allow your thoughts to focus on other things happening to you right now. Remind yourself that everything is going to be okay. Take note of the things in your life that are going great and that you do appreciate. Appreciate your loving and supportive partner, your loyal friends, your wonderful family, the beauty around you, the connections you make every day and the simple things you can do such as read a book, walk around your neighbourhood or the enjoyment of a flavorful meal.
Uncertainty will always be in your life. Learning how to manage your uncertainty will help you get through these tough times and help you to continue moving forward. Continue to stay positive during these times and accept that although many things are outside of your control, there are things you can do to keep moving forward. Let go of the fear, keep perspective and make the most of the present moment.