In the Face of Change: How to Deal with Uncertainty
Uncertainty brings with it a feeling of not being in control, and for some people this can be quite unsettling. Uncertainty is often cited as a primary cause of anxiety. Anxiety is defined as a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an event or situation that may have a negative outcome. This makes sense, as when we don’t know what’s going to happen, we tend to feel worried and uncertain.
Often we want to know if we are doing the right things, making the best decisions to set us up for an optimal future or want assurance that the result of all of these choices would be a future that is stable and secure. We often make such strong attempts at trying to predict what will happen and worry about preventing the worst case scenario, that we lose sight of what we can do in the present moment. This can be especially true when it comes to our personal lives and relationships.
Change and Transition
Lori Deschene, author and founder of Tiny Buddha wrote about the topic of change and our role in moments of transition and stated “You have a say in how often you cling to negative emotions and how often you let go…You get to choose the things you do each day…Every day, you can decide to do something to feel meaningful, empowered, happy, and connected.” We can often feel during moments of change and transition that there are many factors of our lives that seem out of our control- such as the cards we are dealt, the losses we are facing and the reactions from others that we are witnessing. In these moments, Deschene’s words remind us that there is a lot that is out of our control and yet we have the ability to center ourselves in the moment and focus on what we can make direct choices about.
Uncertainty is Challenging
During moments of uncertainty, when we do not know what will happen or what decision to make, we always have the ability to take a deep breath, to attach to a part of our current moment that is reliable and consistent. When we focus on our breathing, we are able to gently remind ourselves of what is important and what is possible. It is important for us to fill our bodies with oxygen and to remember that this is what is keeping us going, not the expensive pair of shoes that we are worried about or the crisis at work. Our breath is what we need to survive and to calm ourselves.
Recognizing Our Thoughts
We can then target our thoughts and decide whether or not the thoughts we are having are adding fuel to the fire or effectively calming us. If they are negative thoughts that we can acknowledge as such and recognize their limiting power, then we can give ourselves permission to deny them that power. We can decide to stop our thought patterns and open ourselves to new ways of thinking. We can remind ourselves that we do have control over how we think and what we think about. A thought is a thought and therefore is not the whole truth.
We can remind ourselves that often we do not have control over everything and that is ok! We are meant to take small steps and continue to learn as we go. To expect that we will have all of the answers for each circumstance we find ourselves in throughout life would seem impossible and extremely overwhelming. Allow yourself to feel content in knowing that even though you do not have all of the answers, you are capable of taking responsibility for what you can do right now- whether that is taking a breath, putting on some comfortable clothes or preparing a meal.
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Deschene, Lori (2012). Tiny Buddha: Simple Wisdom for Life’s Hard Questions.q