With the world feeling like it is spiraling out of control it is no wonder we all are feeling the strain of uncertainty as we just don’t know what the future holds! Now uncertainty is really sneaky. What starts off as feeling unsure, worried, if left unanswered, plus being in an uncertain environment surrounded by other uncertain people this can easily and quickly spiral into deep fear, panic and extreme anxiety. My worry is not so much of the physical impact of what we are currently facing, but the psychological and how we are going to navigate our way through this time in the healthiest and mentally safest way possible.
Why is this happening?
Don’t worry you are not alone in this constant need for certainty. As humans we are programmed to crave certainty in our lives and the feeling of knowing exactly what the future holds, even if it is just 5 minutes from now. Even more so we crave control. Deep down in our minds is our subconscious, whose primary role is to keep us safe and protect us from danger. It is our survival instinct. Our subconscious LOVES certainty because certainty= safety. So anytime our subconscious senses that we don’t have control or we are facing a dilemma this will signal a big red flag that HELP THERE IS DANGER. This is the reason for all those unwanted emotions, all the anxiety which develops, the worrying, ruminating, panicking, fearing. This is all the work of your subconscious mind, just doing what it thinks is best to keep you safe!
If you are trying to control what is happening around you or placing much focus and energy on things that you cannot influence then you will continue to feel more and more uncertain, anxious and overwhelmed. This will impact on your relationships, your career and your health because you will living in fear with your subconscious constantly feeling under threat.
When I was in the thick of my Eating Disorder, I spent all of my mental and physical energy fearing the future and what would happen to me both physically mentally and spititually. Every chest pain, ache, sickness, tooth ache I would immediately think something awful was going to happen to me. As a result I pulled away from my friends, family, saying yes to opportunities or social events and avoided anything that would trigger me or make me feel worse about myself. I became completely isolated myself through fear.
After living with this fear and extreme anxiety for 10 years I realized that how I was living was not helping me! I made a commitment to open myself up to a new way of being. This was hard because I was pushing against our natural instincts and fighting against my subconscious by starting to embrace the uncertainties in my life rather than fearing them and planning for everything that could go wrong. Since changing the way I approached my Eating Disorder I felt like I was finally taking back some control over my life and the world didn’t seem so scary anymore. I could actually start the see the positives I had in my life rather than focusing all my energies on just ‘coping’ and ‘getting through the day’. It brought me out of victim mode and got me focused on my future.
In all of this uncertainty we are living in right now, the only thing you can be certain of is you and how you respond to the uncertainty! So, the next time you face a situation which brings back those familiar signs of uncertainty you can start to take back some control using these 3 steps:
What can I control here?
There are only a number of things which you can truly control in your life:
- Your thoughts
- Your feelings
- Your actions
- Your mistakes
You have zero control over other people, their words, their actions and what is happening around you. If this is where your focus lies, all this will do is increase your anxiety levels as these are the things you cannot directly influence, thus signalling to your subconscious that you are not safe!
Train yourself to take-action only on the things you can control and accept those things you can’t have an effect on and leave them behind- they are just fueling your uncertainty.
Now you know where you need to focus your mind and energy, it is time to take-action only on those things within your control.
Ask yourself this simple question: “what can I do here now? Where is the opportunity here?”
See life as it is in that moment, not the disaster your brain is making it out to be nor how you’d like it to be, then take-action. Now what is the best you can make out of it? Where is the opportunity, what are your choices, what can you do here now?
Reframe Your Uncertainty
The thing that we all need to realize about uncertainty, is that uncertainty creates opportunity. If we go through our life doing the same exact things with the same exact routine, how can we expect anything to change in our lives? How can we expect anything to happen that hasn’t already happened?
If we don’t embrace uncertainty, then we will never truly be able to resolve those things holding us back in life, whether that is fear of what the future holds, our health, our finances or careers. To do this we have to change our approach and with change comes some natural uncertainty. Rather than see this as something to be feared, see it as absolutely essential to be able to make progress in our lives and grow as a person.
“When nothing is certain everything is possible”
Embracing uncertainty is the only way you are ever going to be able to adapt to what life throws at you. There are so many things outside of our control that without reframing the uncertainty we feel we will never be able to adapt, change and remain flexible to be able to cope when times get tough. We will never know what is around the corner, but all we can be certain of is our ability to face and tackle challenges with the knowing that we are doing all we can to get ourselves through it in the safest way possible!
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Do not suffer alone in silence.