24th June 2020
by Gordan Stokes

Uncertainty means the lack of certainty or sureness of an event or outcome. Our brains are wired to react to uncertainty with fear. That is why when facing unfamiliar or uncertain circumstances, you may feel more stressed or anxious than usual. These emotions are perfectly normal, and there are ways to train our brain to deal better with uncertainty.

Here are some strategies to help you deal with uncertainty:

Face your fear

While it is hard to face our fears and insecurities, being able to confront these emotions is extremely beneficial as we face uncertainty in life. Consider trying the following:

  • When you feel the emotions surge, stop and examine the cause
  • Have you experienced similar anxieties in the past? And if so, are you repeating these feelings instead of dealing with them?
  • Ask yourself – what can I do to deal with these feelings and what support do I need?

Control what you can, and let go of what you cannot control

In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey talked about the concept of the Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence. The ‘Circle of Concern’ includes the wide range of concerns in your life (e.g. your health, finances, family, global issues, and so on). However, you may quickly realise that many of the things you are concerned about are outside of your control (e.g. global issues).

Covey suggested we identify our ‘Circle of Influence’ that includes all those things in which you do have an element of control over (e.g. your health and finances).  Applying this template allows you to determine those things you do have control over and focus on them, rather than focusing on those things you have no control over.

Be agile, alert and adaptive and plan for many possibilities

  • Stay up to date with new information on coronavirus (COVID-19) as it arises
  • Draw on your strengths
  • Build your skillset – the more transferrable skills you have, the better equipped you are to adapt and be flexible during times of uncertainty
  • Don’t ask ‘what if?’ – instead ask ‘what will I do if..?’

Be curious

Being curious about outcomes and events means you are more open to different possibilities. Here are some ways to cultivate curiosity:

  • Capture your curiosity in a journal – write down your thoughts, aspirations, questions and concerns
  • Spend some time daydreaming
  • View the world through the eyes of a child – see the possibilities
  • When faced with something new, make a conscious choice to suspend judgement and prevent making assumptions

Look after yourself

Support your wellbeing by practising self-care, exercising and getting good quality sleep. 

In summary, you will cope much better in challenging times when you:

  • Accept uncertainty for what it is – learn to be comfortable with it because it exists in our lives and is inevitable
  • Prepare yourself for various outcomes
  • Face your fears and worries
  • Manage your stress levels

We cannot foretell future events, and we rarely have a precise picture of what lies ahead. As we know, the world is changing rapidly especially at the moment, and the future is unknown.  But with the right approach, we can learn to be comfortable with uncertainty and be prepared for whatever the future brings.

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