In life, you have only one concern — and that’s what you can influence — without worrying about what uncertainty life throws at you.
If you feel uncertainty about everything going on right now in your immediate world, it’s completely normal.
Uncertainty is all around us, never more so than today.
When we are not sure about how things will pan out, our minds begin to quickly play out potential scenarios or ‘worst case’ situations — which can bring about anxiety, stress, and insomnia.
“Our brains perceive ambiguity as a threat, and they try to protect us by diminishing our ability to focus on anything other than creating certainty,” says Christine Carter, Ph.D., a Senior Fellow at the Greater Good Science Center.
The bad news is uncertainty is non-negotiable — it’s the human condition we can’t live without. Uncertainty is unsettling.
Regardless of the size, obstacles exist and are inevitable. Call it Murphy’s Law or just the nature of life.
But constant worrying and panic won’t stop a crisis from happening, but it will only waste your time and energy.
Given what’s happening around the world today, it’s safe to say that we are experiencing one of the most uncertain times in history.
But if you dwell on it and keep feeding your brain with events and everything that can go terribly wrong, things can get pretty bad for your mental health.
Always remember this: the changes that are happening are out of our control. You can only prepare yourself to deal with it in a way that doesn’t put your mental health at risk.
Many people can’t cope — they are struggling to keep moving.
“If you are constantly aware and preparing for uncertainty and potential bad events; and thus are constantly in fight-or-flight mode, you build up a chronic stress pattern and make yourself more prone to fear and anxiety,” says Rebecca Sinclair, Ph.D., a psychologist.
A psychological concept known as ‘hindsight bias’ says that we tend to create the illusion that everything in our past was certain. But in reality, uncertainty has always been around us.
Build your tolerance
During times of uncertainty, you can do more than “cope”. You can demand more of yourself to thrive in spite of everything you feel or see around you.
What we can do right now is control how we respond to unpredictability, as well as shift our attention to the present moment and take things one day at a time.
The importance of switching your focus to smaller; daily tasks you can control cannot be stressed enough.
As difficult as it may be, establishing routines to give your days and weeks some comforting structure is the one thing you strive to. Don’t let worry or stress derail your daily routines and general health.
You navigated uncertainty in your life, relationships and career before the pandemic — acknowledging that despite what you came across in the past; you still overcame them and went about your life can build your tolerance for more significant uncertainties.
Setbacks will happen, the only question is: How will you react when they come? The uncomfortable truth in life is that you can’t control every event, experience, or outcome.
The best thing you can do is to focus on what you can control — even when the only thing they can control is your effort, mindset and attitude.
That powerful statement is also the same sentiment expressed by the 20th century Christian Serenity Prayer; God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.
Make a commitment to take charge of everything within your control and be intentional or mindful about not worrying about the things you can’t.
Life is full of uncertainties, not just a pandemic. While many things remain outside your control; your mindset is key to coping when times are hard and difficult.
Don’t believe everything you think — make concrete daily plans and focus on habits that bring out the best in you.