The current state of the world is one marked largely by uncertainty. Suddenly finding ourselves in unfamiliar territory, and not yet knowing what the future holds, can give rise to a number of uncomfortable emotions. When a world that once felt predictable becomes a world full of unknowns, it’s easy to feel out of control.
Many of us see the world around us as being, for the most part, stable. We find this idea of stability comforting, and losing touch with that sense of control can prompt fear, anxiety, anger, confusion and even loss as we grieve parts of our lives that no longer exist in the way we thought they would. But in all of this discomfort lies a hidden treasure: an opportunity to grow our powers of acceptance and adaptability. When we step out of familiar territory and embrace the unknown, a world of possibilities opens within us.
The good news is, however uncomfortable it may be, this process and the emotions that come along with it are completely normal.
The Unknown: A Normal Part of Life
Facing unknowns is an inherent part of life. Learning to be okay with uncertainty is an extremely beneficial life skill to develop. In fact, the ability to tolerate not knowing is directly linked to our ability to feel content.
Instead of avoiding our fear of the unknown and suppressing the feelings it brings up for us, what would happen if we stayed present with that feeling? Uncertainty is simply a stage within a larger process of change. We move out of our comfort zone, into uncertainty, and finally into a new, more evolved stage of being. But this requires us to work through our fears rather than allowing them to control the outcomes.
Let’s take a look at some ways to approach this process.
Ways to Work Through Uncertainty
Feel your feelings.
Becoming aware that a situation is out of your control can bring up fear, anxiety and sadness: emotions we’re normally taught to suppress. Instead, try allowing them to be there without resisting them, as resistance only traps fear and causes it to grow. Practice being compassionate and nonjudgmental towards yourself as you experience your emotions.
If this is your first time doing this, the practice can seem counterintuitive, as we’re largely taught to believe such feelings should be avoided, or mean there’s something wrong with us. If you’re not sure where to begin, a certified mental health counselor can help guide you through this process.
Identify what you can and can’t control.
Predictability is an illusion we create for ourselves. The reality is that much of life is beyond our control – things around us can change at any time.
Take an inventory of what’s going on in your life at the moment, and try to determine what’s in your control and what’s not. We don’t have control over what happens in the world, but we do have control over how we choose to respond. We can choose to constantly check the news and fixate on worries about the future, or we can choose to prepare ourselves to the extent that we realistically can.
- You may not be able to go to the gym, but you can work out at home.
- You may not be able to find certain sanitary supplies, but you can practice good hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly and avoiding touching your face.
- You may not have control over your family members’ decisions, but you can check in with them regularly to see if they’re taking the recommended precautions, and make sure they have
- everything they need in place to do so.
- You may not be able to go outside right now, but you can make sure to get sun, take in views of the outdoors or listen to a playlist of nature sounds each day.
- External factors may be in flux, but you can establish a daily routine that helps you get into a rhythm and accomplish tasks when you’re feeling well.
Reconnect with the essentials.
Use this as an opportunity to reassess the fundamentals of your life that matter most, such your relationships and self-care. You may find that your priorities have shifted to more truly reflect your values, and that many of the sources of your anxiety were in fact not that important to you in the larger picture. For example, you may realize that spending more time with your family helps you feel grounded, and that it’s worth it to you to forego those extra hours at the office.
Embrace the upsides of developing new skills.
When you’re able to grow your tolerance of uncertainty, you also grow your adaptability – your internal resources for adjusting to new circumstances. This kind of resilience enables us to switch gears more easily and approach the future with a more open and optimistic mind.
This doesn’t just apply to the coronavirus; uncertainty is bound to recur at various stages throughout life. If you use this challenge as an opportunity to add tools to your mental wellness toolkit, they’ll be there to serve you for the rest of your life – and they’ll be ready next time you need them.
Get the support you need.
If you’re struggling with anxiety and worry about the future, Ayadi can help you build the tools you need to thrive in this phase and beyond. Our experienced counselors are here to listen to what you’re going through and offer their compassion, understanding and guidance.
Download the Ayadi app to connect with a certified mental health counselor today.