The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers. ~Erich Fromm
Life is funny sometimes. For long stretches of time, you wake up every day knowing exactly what you’re about to do. You’ve got your routine set up and everything is working great.
The future is certain.
Then one day it isn’t anymore. Life changes and before you know it things aren’t the same as they were. You don’t know where you’re going to end up. You’ve lost that certainty and have to live for a while not knowing what the immediate future is going to bring.
That’s what happened to me just a few months ago. My wife was offered a job in Houston that was way too good to pass up. We thought through the decision and discussed it for a long time before deciding to go for it.
What made things so uncertain for me was the move. We were living in Minneapolis and Houston was all the way across the country. I’d never even visited Houston before.
Would I like it there?
How would we set our lives up there?
There were so many different questions I couldn’t answer. I’d just have to wait to see how things turned out.
In the meantime, I’d have to live with the uncertainty of how my life would shape up after such a monumental change.
Through it all, I learned a few things about living with uncertainty.
5 Helpful Tips for Living with Uncertainty
They must often change who would be constant in happiness or wisdom. ~Confucius
1. Listen and respond to your anxiety
The worst thing you can do is ignore your feelings. If you’re feeling sad or upset about something, you need to get it out. I found that talking with my wife helped a lot. But anyone who understands what you’re going through will do.
Even talking to yourself can be a good idea. Just get the words out somehow so that you have an outlet.
Being able to express yourself helps you understand your anxiety. And when you can rationalize your thoughts and fears, you can put them in proper perspective.
2. Imagine the worst
It may seem counter-intuitive to start imagining the worst thing that can happen, but I’ve found that this can sometimes help.
Sometimes the worst thing that can happen really isn’t all that bad. For instance, my wife and I imagined our worst case scenario for the move. The worst thing would have been if we didn’t like it there and had to move back.
That’s the worst scenario? It doesn’t seem so bad when you put it like that.
The key thing is to not dwell on the worst-case scenario. That won’t help. What’s important is to think about it long enough to recognize and acknowledge your fears. When you see them for what they are, you can better understand and control them.
The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.~Tony Robbins
3. Find your inner strength
Dealing with the unknown can be scary. You don’t always know where things are going to go.
With all that uncertainty filling your head, some doubts and negative thoughts will come up. Soon you start to second guess yourself and wonder if you’ve been making the right decisions.
It can be destructive.
It’s important to find your inner strength. It can come from meditation, relaxation techniques or anything that keeps you going.
There will be times when you lose that strength; sometimes it can’t be helped. What you can do is find what works for you to get it back.
You’re going to need to continue making decisions and working things out. All the confidence and planning depends on how strong you are on the inside.
4. Focus on what you can control
Sometimes it’s easy to get preoccupied with problems to things you have little or no control over.
When we moved, we decided to rent out our old house through a rental company. The company said it would take a few months to find renters, but in the meantime, we’d have to continue paying the mortgage there.
We put a lot of faith in our hope to rent out our old house. For a while, we became anxious that we wouldn’t find anyone to rent it out and we’d be paying the mortgage there and rent here.
But we decided not to focus on that. We can’t control who decides to rent it out.
What we can control happens right here. Those are the things we can change. It doesn’t do us any good to preoccupy all our time on something we have no control over.
5. Reframe your challenges as opportunities
When I moved to Houston, I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t have a life set up here. That presented a long list of challenges and obstacles to overcome.
Instead of seeing them as problems, I saw them as opportunities. I don’t have any friends here? That’s an opportunity to meet a wide range of new and interesting people. I don’t know my way around? That’s an opportunity to explore a brand new city.
Obstacles don’t have to be burdened. They might just lead you to something bigger and better than you had before. Don’t see challenges as things to avoid. See them as exciting opportunities.
If change is the only constant in life, why do we fear change and uncertainty? Share your insights by joining the conversation in the comment section below