Living with uncertainty is stressful. It literally goes against our fundamental human need to feel safe. If you’re someone who also suffers from anxiety, uncertainty can be paralyzing. The problem is, life is uncertain, so we must learn how to get comfortable with it in order to ride with the waves of life, not against them.
Living with Uncertainty is a part of life
I’ve been living with uncertainty since I was a kid because there was an addict in my life, so I was constantly confronted with the stress of having no control over what happened to them. That was hard as a young person and unfortunately, I turned to chemicals as well to manage my stress and anxiety in those days.
When you're sober you need new ways to cope and live with uncertainty
Since then there’s been uncertainty in a lot of other areas too. I’m not actually sure if I find it because I’m primed to, or if this is just the human experience. All people are going to have uncertain times with their personal relationships, family members, health, jobs, financial situations and anything else you can think of. Perhaps, due to my comfort with discomfort, I find a lot of uncertainty... But, whatever the cause, I can’t pick up a drink or take a pill to manage these feelings anymore.
Here are the things I’ve learned to do to manage myself during uncertain times
Tune into the body
See where you might learn some tricks to make yourself feel more physically comfortable during uncertain times. For example, does your heart start to race while your temperature suddenly rises when you're freaking out? That can be treated with meditation, mantra meditation, CBT (I had one doctor who had me draw a bubble around myself when I felt scared and had me repeat to myself that I was safe and nothing could burst that bubble). Today, all I need is a walk so there’s a reason why I live next to hiking trails.
Confront your fears!
Are you going to f*#k everything and run? Or, face everything and rise? Play out what’s the worst that can happen and see how you feel about that outcome. Maybe it isn’t so bad, or maybe there's a good lesson to be learned. Either way, learn to lean into the wave and the ride will be much smoother.
Manage your expectations and prepare for different outcomes
After you're done playing out the what's the worst that can happen, play out the best. Prepare for both and don’t future trip before you know what’s going to happen. Put your grown-up self in charge and manage those expectations!
If you’re a 12-stepper, I’ve been told the thing to do is the work the program, not the problem. I’ve also heard that works.