Uncertainty is a big part of daily life. Every day we all have to live with a degree of uncertainty, and for some that’s a ‘big ask’. But, how do you know if you suffer from uncertainty causing you a problem in your life? And, once you do know, what is the best way to deal with it?
Uncertainty is inevitable. We don’t truly know if we’ll be alive tomorrow. We don’t know whether we’ll have an accident or if something will go wrong. As the wise man once said, ‘It’s not what happens to you, but what you make of what happens, that shapes you.’
So how do you know if you are suffering from over thinking and uncertainty? Do you sometimes find yourself having to double and triple check things? Or do you struggle to make a decision, constantly looking for reassurance from others. Maybe you find yourself relentlessly making lists or procrastinating, but don’t know why?
Perhaps you are one of those people who distracts themselves from thoughts of uncertainty, and feelings of anxiety, by keeping yourself busy.
How can we best cope with the thoughts generated by uncertainty? What can we do to help ourselves?
…. when you are feeling uncertain, your brain is running simulations that have negative outcomes
Uncertainty is simply the brain running a simulation that we sometimes believe. It is not real, but if we run the simulation often enough we start to believe it is – and ‘what the thinker thinks the prover proves.’ We help to create that reality for ourselves, and we feel the fear. So what can we do?
- Take control
Focus on what you can control and don’t dwell on what you can’t. Uncertainty and anxiety are fuelled by the brain constantly trying to find solutions to things that are beyond your control. If you can identify what you can influence or control, and put your focus on that, it will help.
- Work with what you know
Be aware of what you know and what you don’t know. When you are feeling uncertain, it is because your brain is running simulations that have negative outcomes. Ask yourself if there has ever been a time when you haven’t found a solution to a problem. The chances are there will never have been such an occasion. Therefore, you have a 100% success rate at managing; so why should things be any different in the future?
- Ground yourself
Sometimes when people are wrapped up with uncertainty and anxious thoughts, they will feel uncomfortable, start to panic, and become stressed. At this point, go back to basics. Ask yourself, ‘In the past when I have felt like this what worked, what helped me to feel okay?’ And then do more of that!
Breathing is a highly underrated skill! It is a powerful tool to help control our para-sympathetic system and help us feel calm. There are numerous breathing techniques available; I recommend the 7/11 breathing method where the in breath is shorter than the out breath. Repeat ten to fifteen times; it does help.
- Don’t seek perfection
If you are constantly striving for perfection you will never get there! Instead, accept that what you have is already good enough – and get it out there!
- Know when to trust your gut feeling.
Our ancestors relied on their intuition—their gut instinct—for survival. Since most of us don’t face life-or-death decisions every day, we have to learn how to use this instinct to our benefit. We often make the mistake of talking ourselves out of listening to our gut instinct; or we go too far in the other direction and impulsively dive into a situation, mistaking our assumptions for instincts. People who successfully deal with uncertainty recognize and embrace the power of their gut instincts. They rely on tried-and-tested methods and feel comfortable in their decisions.
So, to conclude, uncertainty is something that you can deal with better.
A little uncertainty in life is necessary and can help. But, if you suffer from anxiety due to uncertainty, then it’s really all about applying some of the above.
Uncertainty is the brain running a simulation that causes us to feel a way we would rather not feel.
Cognitive Hypnotherapy and NLP have some useful ways to help people think about things, which in turn helps them to deal with and manage uncertainty differently.
If you would simply like to know more, or you feel that this is something that would be of value to you or someone you know, then why not get in touch.