Why do we feel like we were living in more certain times during 2019? Was it because the world was open, we could mingle and socialize, go to restaurants, stores, and travel freely without thought? Was it because we felt like we had autonomy over our lives?
Life is full of uncertainty – the art is learning how to live with it. Uncertainty has always been a strong antecedent of anxiety. No one really likes uncertainty. Uncertainty is a strange and uncomfortable feeling when you realize that you do not know what lies ahead of you. The control you thought you had over yourself and your future suddenly vanishes.
This creates a feeling of stress, anxiety and discomfort. We become so much more aware of the gravity of the situation in the world because we feel powerless. We are not living in a time of certainty. We don’t know what tomorrow will look like. However, as humans, we have a strong need to know, or perhaps we have been conditioned to think that this is the way, in a state of certainty.
However, it has never been the way at all. Life has always had many elements of uncertainty. To start, we don’t ever know that we will wake up tomorrow. What if today is our last day on earth? Should we live it differently?
Perhaps we are going about this thing called life all wrong. Perhaps ever day should be lived like it is our last. This moment is the only moment that we have any certainty about. Let’s live it that way.
We truly think we have control over what tomorrow looks like or next week. Thinking this way helps many of us to feel more comfortable, less anxious, and focused. However, we can never be certain of tomorrow, next week, or next year.
Here are a few ideas to help you live with uncertainty:
Agree that it exists and has always existed. Reflect back to times when you were not certain, and things worked out. Think about what that uncertainty was about. How were you able to accept it? The more accepting we are of uncertainty that exists in all of our lives, the easier it is to adopt practices that help us meet uncertainty with grace and poise.
Look at what you do have control over in your life. So much of life is out of our control. The only thing we truly have control over is our thoughts and our actions. The rest of the world, people, choices, and thoughts are outside of our control.
Be mindful of your thoughts. When your thoughts drift into worry, anxiety, need for certainty, be sure to address them. What do you know about certainty? How will you move forward? What can you control? These are important questions to ask ourselves over and over again to provoke moment-to-moment living. Becoming worried, confused or overwhelmed about what might happen or could happen is not necessarily serving you in any way.
Remember and cherish the times when you managed to get through the things you feared most that were out of your control. Allow yourself to release fear. Holding onto fear is not helpful in any way and prevents us from living life to its fullest.
Surround yourself with a supportive community of like-minded individuals.
Tune into your body. Engage with your body when you are feeling uncertainty creep in. What is your body’s physiological response? What are the symptoms of worry that actually show up physically? Your body is your key to awareness. Does your heart beat fast, do your palms sweat? Does your chest tighten? Tuning into these bodily sensations will help indicate when you can turn fear of uncertainty into welcoming uncertainty.
Imagine the worst-case scenario. Envision what could possibly happen. You will likely find yourself creating an enormous story that takes you down a dark rabbit hole. Our mind can be our greatest enemy. After a few moments of this, open your eyes and see that you are here, not there. Amidst this story, although all possible, we ultimately know nothing is certain or bound to happen.
Sit with your anxiety, fear and uncertainty. Befriend it. Accept it. Meet it with compassion. However, do not let it control you, your mind, or your thoughts.
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