Learning to Cope with Uncertainty

Learning to Cope with Uncertainty

One thing we can all agree on is that life is filled with uncertainty and worries about the future. Much of life remains outside our control, and our mindset is key to coping with difficult circumstances and confidently facing the unknown.

More than ever, right now we are living in an uncertain world. We watch the news and hear about war, the sad state of the economy, Covid, hurricanes, global warming, etc. We constantly “doomscroll”, through bad news, even though that news is saddening, disheartening or depressing”, a practice researchers found has boomed since the onset of the pandemic. As humans, we crave security. We want to feel safe and have a sense of control over our lives and well-being. Fear and uncertainty can leave you feeling stressed, anxious, and powerless over the direction of your life. It can drain you emotionally and trap you in a downward spiral of endless “what-ifs” and worst-case scenarios about what tomorrow may bring.

We’re all different in how much uncertainty we can tolerate in life. Some people seem to enjoy taking risks and living with unpredictability, while others find the ebb and flow of life deeply distressing. But all of us have a limit. If you feel overwhelmed by uncertainty and worry, it’s important to know that you’re not alone; many of us are in the same boat. It’s also important to realize that no matter how helpless and hopeless you feel, there are steps you can take to better deal with uncontrollable circumstances, alleviate your anxiety, and face the unknown with more confidence.

As difficult to accept as it is, uncertainty is a natural and unavoidable part of life. There is little about our lives that is constant or totally certain, and while we have control over many things, we can’t control everything that happens to us. As the pandemic demonstrated, life can change very quickly and very unpredictably. One day things may be just fine, the next you’ve suddenly become sick, lost your job, or found yourself struggling to put food on the table or provide for your family.

To cope with all this uncertainty, many of us use worrying as a tool for trying to predict the future and avoid nasty surprises. Maybe if you worry enough, you may have some control over uncertain circumstances. Maybe if you just agonize over a problem long enough, just think through every possibility, or read every opinion online, you’ll find a solution and be able to control the outcome. Unfortunately, none of this works. Chronic worrying can’t give you more control over uncontrollable events; it just robs you of enjoyment in the present, saps your energy, and keeps you up at night. But there are healthier ways to cope with uncertainty—and that begins with adjusting your mindset.

The truth is you already accept a lot of uncertainty every day. Each time you cross a street, get behind the wheel of a car, take an Uber, or eat takeout or restaurant food you’re accepting a level of uncertainty. You’re trusting that the traffic will stop, you won’t have an accident, your driver is careful, and everything you’re eating is safe. That’s because in reality, the chances of something bad happening are small. It’s the “irrational fears” and worries that make it hard to think logically and accurately weigh the probability of something bad happening. Here are a few tips:

A lot of our triggers are self-generated due to years of excessive worrying or a general pessimist outlook on life. However, external sources, especially in current times, can make it worse. Watching and reading media sources that focus on worst-case scenarios, actively spending more than 3 hours a day scrolling social media with all the rumors and half-truths, talking to similarly anxious friends or relatives who share the same negative responses will fuel your fears and uncertainties even more. Remember this: CNN, MSNBC, FOX, will not get ratings from selling good news. People slow down in traffic to watch an accident for a reason. Bad news sells and we as humans are attracted to that. This is why there is more focus on the bad than the good. There is still a lot of good in the world, but we are just not hearing about it. Limit your exposure to the bad news!

When you start to feel anxious and fearful about a situation, the “what ifs”, etc., you will notice tension in your neck, shoulders, shortness of breath, headache or a sick feeling in your stomach. Allow yourself to feel the uncertainty. Instead of engaging in futile efforts to gain control over the uncontrollable, let yourself experience the discomfort of uncertainty. Like all emotions, if you allow yourself to feel fear and uncertainty, they will eventually pass. Focus on the present moment and your breathing and allow yourself to simply feel and observe the uncertainty you’re experiencing. Take some slow, deep breaths or try a meditation to keep you anchored in the present. Let it go and accept the uncertainty as part of life. Focus on what you CAN solve and take action. When your mind wanders back to worrying or feelings of uncertainty, refocus your mind on the present moment and your own breathing.

It’s important to know that you are not alone. We are all dealing with the same thing. I know it doesn’t change what is happening, but at least you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not the only one who is feeling scared and anxious. Make sure you take care of yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually. You need to eat well, exercise, get out into nature, stay in touch with people, and get a good night’s sleep. If you need professional help, who cares what people think? Seek out someone to speak with……OR…..Read a good self-help book!

Susan Korwin ©2022


Susan Korwin

Model, Certified Life Coach, and Author of "Simple Strides Toward Positive Change". Follow me on instagram @hedred

  • Felicia Ruskin
    Posted at 22:04h, 30 September Reply

    Love this Article! Great Advice 👍😀🌈

    • Susan Korwin
      Posted at 22:06h, 30 September Reply

      Thank you Felicia! I still have your book! Need to get it to you! xo

  • Jennifer Smith
    Posted at 15:07h, 01 October Reply

    Thank-you! Needed this❤️

    • Susan Korwin
      Posted at 16:19h, 01 October Reply

      Jennifer, thank you for your comment! I am so glad it helped in some way…….

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