We all experience different levels of uncertainty every day. While many things are outside our control, our mindset is key to coping with difficult circumstances and facing the unknown.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People author Stephen Covey uses a helpful framework that provides clarity on what you cannot change or influence on matters of concern. He emphasises that by focusing on things that can affect, we can get done, become more effective, and increase satisfaction in our daily life.
Covey’s idea, we each have a Circle of Concern which includes everything we care about and a smaller inner Circle of Influence that encompasses those things that we care about and can do something.
Self-doubt is all around us, never more so than today. The present-day COVID-19 pandemic has intensified uncertainty over relationships, careers, finances, physical and mental health. Yet as humans, we crave security, we want to feel safe and have a sense of control over our health, wellbeing, and lives.
Fear and uncertainty can leave you feeling depressed, stressed, and helpless over the direction of your life. It can drain you mentally, physically and emotionally and trap you in a descending spiral of never-ending “what-ifs”, and worst-case scenarios about what the future might bring.
Coping with the threat of uncertainty
While we may not wish to accept it, uncertainty is intrinsic and an unavoidable part of our everyday lives, and while we have influence and control over many, we cannot control everything that happens.
Worrying about it all the time deprives your enjoyment in the present, drains your energy, and for some interrupts sleep. Then there are healthier ways to cope with uncertainty—and that starts with altering the way you reflect about things.
Reduce your anxiety and stress levels
Taking measures to reduce your anxiety and stress levels can help you to interrupt the downward pattern of negative thinking, find inner peace, and cope better with the uncertainty in your life.
The following tips can help you:
- Expand your stress management awareness by understanding all four approaches for coping with stress: Avoid, Alter, Accept and Adapt.
- When your levels of stress surpass your ability to cope, you need to restore the balance by decreasing the stressors or improving your ability to manage or both.
Consider using one of the four A’s: Avoid, Alter, Accept or Adapt.
Avoid – Did you know; you can avoid a lot of stress?
Plan, take control of your surroundings, avoid people who upset you and learn to say no.
Alter – Communicate your feelings openly, manage your time better, at workgroup together similar tasks.
Accept – Occasionally we may have no choice but to accept the way things they are. Therefore, try to:
- Phone or schedule a coffee break with an understanding colleague.
- Practice positive self-talk. It’s easy to lose that when you’re stressed. One negative thought can lead to many more, and soon you’ve created a mental avalanche, learn from your mistakes.
Adapt – Practice thought-stopping – Stop negative thoughts immediately, try looking at your situation from a new viewpoint. Adopt a mantra such as, “I can beat this,” and mentally repeat it in challenging situations.
Look at the bigger picture by asking yourself, “Will the problem matter in a year?” The answer is often no. Realising that this makes a stressful situation seem less upsetting.
Focus on controlling things that are in your span of control irrespective of your reservations, fears or personal circumstances. Rather than worrying about what you are unable to control, learn to focus your attention on actioning things that are within your gift.
For example, if you have been furloughed, facing redundancy or going through a restructuring process at work. You’re still in control over how much energy you put into searching for employment online, sending out your CV, registering your details with recruitment agencies or networking with your connections.
By focusing on the facets of a problem that you can control, you’ll change from unproductive worrying and reflecting into active problem-solving.
No matter how much you attempt to eliminate doubt and unpredictability from your life, in truth, you already accept a lot of uncertainty daily. Each time you leave your house, take control of the wheel of a car or go for a swim, you’re accepting a level of uncertainty. You’re trusting that you don’t trip up on a paving stone, the traffic will stop, and the correct levels of chemicals are in the swimming pool. The likelihood of something terrible happening in these settings is small; therefore, you accept the risk and move on without requiring certainty.
Uncertainty tends to be self-generated, by worrying excessively or a bleak outlook. However, some uncertainty is intensified by external sources. A fine example of this is social media stories that focus on worst-case scenarios, amid rumours and half-truths, plus speaking with friends who may be anxious can all fuel your fears and uncertainties.
By recognising your triggers, you can take action to avoid or reduce your exposure to them.
Identify when you feel the need for certainty
Please take note of when you start to feel anxious or in fear about a situation, develop a feeling like the circumstances are far worse than it is. Or begin to worry about the what-ifs.
A list of more tell-tale signs:
- Look for the physical signs that you’re feeling anxious
- Notice the tension in your neck or shoulders
- The onset of a headache
- A nervous or empty feeling in your stomach
- Shortness of breath
Tips on staying in the present moment
If you happen to spend a lot of your day focusing on the past, or you find it challenging to concentrate on your future. And you think this may have a negative impact on your life then consider the tips offered by Jack Canfield. in this video. Jack Canfield is an American author, of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which has sold over 500 million copies in print in over 40 languages.
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