“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, Infinite Possibilities open up in your life.” – Eckhart TolleTweet
Most of us are afraid of the unknown. It is human nature to feel anxious and worried about things you have no control over or things you have no idea about. To worry about what the future hides is okay and normal. But you shouldn’t let uncertainty take control of your present moment.
Uncertainty is when you can not predict the future. With this inability to predict, comes our fear and anxiety. Our minds tend to divert into only thinking about negative outcomes when we don’t know what to expect from a situation. Even if you are a person with a positive attitude, you know that your brain can lean into the negative path creating a pinch of fear before retracting back to the positive mindset.
All my life I had the fear of uncertainty. When I graduated from high school, I felt okay with everything because I was confident about what was coming next. But everything changed when there was a change of plans.
I was supposed to go to Malaysia for pursuing my education but things didn’t go as planned. After getting accepted in a university in Kuala Lumpur and receiving my offer letter, I couldn’t complete my process into going to the one place I dreamt of studying in every single day due to unexpected financial matters.
So I canceled my visa and looked for a job to cover at least half of my tuition fees. While I was working for two years, I didn’t even know where I was going eventually. Every place was expensive and unaffordable.
Most of my days started and ended with the uncertainty of what was to happen with me. I kept getting into a job and leaving it after a couple of months. I had to collect for my college but I didn’t even know if I was going.
The whole two years I had no idea where I was going to end up. There were days I even thought of giving up on college and just work and earn money since I enjoyed teaching anyways. But I knew that would kill my father.
My life at this point felt like it was going nowhere. I didn’t know if I was truly going to college or that I can afford it. Hell, I didn’t even know what to apply for.
I wanted to be a psychologist but dad wasn’t okay with it. Like most other fathers, he wanted me to go for something that is more practical and in demand. He wanted me to be an engineer. So I chose Software Engineering.
After a friend’s recommendation and doing some research, I (had to) choose India. At first, it was the only option. It was affordable and Indians are well known for their great knowledge of technology. So I had no other option but to go there.
I was so uncertain of what was coming next in my life. I hated the idea of going to India after having the chance to go to Malaysia. I was afraid of having to spend my life in a place where I knew nobody and that too not very happy to be in. In Malaysia, I had my friends around me. I wanted to be there.
However, India had wonders waiting for me. When I reached India, I met an amazing roommate that we spent all 4.5 years as sisters. I had made friends everywhere. I met wonderful people. In fact, I spent the best years of my life in the place I internally refused to accept.
The moral of my story is: you need to believe not knowing what the outcome is going to be about any situation/decision in the future is okay not always will it turn to something negative.
No matter how much you believe that something is not going to work or you are uncertain of what is coming, you have to embrace the fact that the future is not in your control…the present is.
So what you should be working on is your present so your future can have a better outcome.
I am going to share with you my strategies to embrace your feeling of uncertainty that I figured out after having to come across a number of uncertain situations in my life.
Accept your fear of uncertainty
“Faith means living with uncertainty — feeling your way through life, letting your heart guide you like a lantern in the dark.” — Dan MillmanTweet
In order to overcome anything in life, the first step you need to do is accept what you’re suffering from. In this case, accept that you’re afraid of an uncertain future.
Believe me, even the best of us have some sort of fear of uncertainty but we work on getting better at it. At first, it may seem impossible to embrace it so you may find it unnecessary to acknowledge it. But the minute you acknowledge your fear, you create self-awareness that can be the start embracing your fear of uncertainty and work on how to overcome it.
Stop believing you are in control of everything
The number one change you need to do is to stop thinking that you have the ability to control everything around you. You can’t help but develop anxiety in this case. It is the only gain from the situation. Here is something the author of Your Brain at Work, David Rock, said:
“The brain craves certainty. A sense of uncertainty about the future and feeling out of control both generate strong limbic system responses.” — David RockTweet
Most of us have it in us to try and control even the little things in our lives like our job security, relationship, health, etc. The fear of uncertainty in these parts of our life causes the urgency to try and control our future. I hate to break the bubble, but it is just not possible. Having control of the future is just an illusion.
You can’t control the future, but you can control your present. You have to focus on controlling your present situation. Look for ways to try and have the best future by setting a plan on how to achieve it.
Understand your options
This is an effective way to calm yourself from the anxiety of uncertainty. You need to understand and have knowledge about what are the possible changes.
For example, if your company is merging with another company and this caused your anxiety to increase because of how uncertain you are if you will continue in this job, talk to the company’s HR or your direct boss about it. Don’t give ears to the workplace gossip that keeps you worried about losing your job.
The more you get to understand the situation and your options, the less uncertain you feel about the future.
I know that by even understanding your options, it may not take away the feeling of uncertainty. However, by embracing your uncertainty, you will have a better understanding of how things are at the present moment and then you can work on setting realistic future expectations.
Replace uncertainty with a plan
Stop setting expectations. Instead, have a plan!
The problem with most of our fear about uncertainty is that we view our future without a plan. Our expectations are based merely on what is happening today. Our brains are wired to either over hope or over doubt the future outcomes.
Instead of planning on how we want our future to be, we just freeze and believe that it is impossible to reach where we want to. This feeling, if you let it control you, it will just take you to a dark side of life.
For example, with the negative impact of the Coronavirus in the world, many employees are losing their job. This may keep you at the edge of not knowing whether your company will let you go as well. You go to work every day expecting an email or a call to your boss’s office letting you know what they are letting you go.
What you can do in this situation is not just feel anxious or uneasy all the time. Instead, you need to embrace the uncertainty that is not in your control and plan on what you can do if you suddenly became unemployed.
The first thing you can do is conduct a research on what you can do next. Whether you are planning to apply for another job in a similar industry, or use it as a break to spend time with your family, or even look for ways to earn income from home. Either way, you have to plan what you wanna do if you suddenly became unemployed.
So like I said above, you need to have a plan to avoid complete uncertainty. Although you won’t have a guarantee that it will work, but you need to embrace uncertainty by having a plan of how to execute your expectations.
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Accept challenges and expect a stumbling block; embrace imperfection
When you are planning your future, you need to keep in mind that you may be disappointed. Things sometimes don’t really work out as planned but it is not the end of the world even if it feels that way.
When you are uncertain about how things will turn out, you have to set expectations for the best-case scenario and worst-case scenario. This way you won’t be in a state of disappointment and misery. Instead, you can think of how you can fix your situation if it didn’t go the way you wanted it to.
Life is all about challenging yourself to enhance growth. Without challenges, you will continue to live inside the ‘ordinary box’. I am sure deep down you want more. You want more than what you have. The only way to live your life without any restrains is to embrace uncertainty.
Being uncertain about something you don’t really know much about is okay. As I said, you need to learn and understand your options, but it shouldn’t stop you from trying harder.
Panicking about the unexpected outcome from a challenge will only set boundaries for your personal or career growth. Stop trying to know your future or keep looking for ways to make it perfect. Instead, learn to embrace your uncertainty and imperfection.
Related Post: How Your Productivity Is Affected by Perfectionism
Change your perspective
The major problem with most people is that they refuse to look at things from a different angle. Everything that is happening has only a single meaning to them. If they got what they want, then it is perfect and okay. If they didn’t, then they worry about what could possibly go wrong again in the coming future.
In my second year of college, I met a friend who I knew from the same city I live in. He was a junior and was just starting his higher education. When he and I met and started chit-chatting, I asked him what brought him to India because I knew he wanted to go to Malaysia too. But then he told me something that totally changed my perspective in the way I view everything around me.
He said that he did want to go there, but his friends in Malaysia advised him not to. This was because students who were residents of Saudi Arabia had trouble renewing their student visa due to some incidents that took place in Malaysia at that time. Some of his friends were stuck there for two years without having to visit their families or renew their Saudi residency permit.
You see what is happening? Who knew? Maybe I would’ve been one of those people. Or maybe even I would have got it worse than they did. I would never know.
When a negative situation happens, try to understand and believe that there is a positive reason behind it that you may not have figured out yet. So you need to change the way you look at situations. This will help you to be okay with uncertainty and to be okay with not knowing the future or not having control over it.
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Observe your emotions
When you become so dwelled on uncertainty, you ultimately lose your feelings with it. You start having speculations about how you know nothing about what is going to happen which increases your anxiety and fear.
The more speculations you have about your future, the more negative feeling you will experience. Instead of emphasizing on the negativity of how you feel, channel those thoughts into embracing change.
One thing you can do is focus on the progress or process of the situation. This will divert your negative feelings/thoughts into positive ones as you will be thinking about the possible outcomes from the possibilities in front of you.
The key to embracing uncertainty is to be comfortable about it because it is real. You have to believe that is it okay to be uncertain about things and stop trying to take control of everything.
This is an interesting video that I came across about how uncertainty can be a foundation to pursue an inspired and improved lifestyle.
Thank you for reading till the end 🙂
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How do you deal with your uncertainties? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.