One of the most challenging things to navigate in life is living with uncertainty. My wife and I are dealing with this right now, as we try to have a baby. We have had trouble getting pregnant, and we’re working with an infertility doctor. But the future is uncertain. We don’t know whether we will be able to have a baby or not.
Living with Uncertainty
You might be living with some uncertainty in your life as well. Maybe you’re trying to have a family, like we are. Or maybe you’re single and wanting to get married, but it hasn’t happened yet. Perhaps your uncertainty has to do with school or a job. Maybe you’re dealing with a health problem like cancer, and you don’t know what the future holds.
The Need for Security
One of our most foundational needs is to feel safe and secure. When uncertainty hits, it can rock the boat. Because the future is uncertain, life doesn’t feel as safe as we would like it to be. Something bad might happen.
Coping with Uncertainty
We have all sorts of coping strategies when we face uncertainty. Some of these coping strategies can make our lives worse. For example, some people just check out when they face uncertainty. They might go to an addiction such as drugs or alcohol. Other people might get so anxious about the future that they can’t enjoy the present.
3 Ways to Navigate Uncertainty
How can we deal with uncertainty in a positive way? Here are 3 things to think about and try:
- Build your “uncertainty muscle”. One of the tough things about life is that it is full of uncertainty. That’s just the way the world works. We have a limited ability to control our lives, and sometimes we get caught off guard. It can be helpful to normalize uncertainty, and build our capacity for dealing with it. The best way to build your uncertainty muscle is to live a full life and stick with it, even when uncertainty hits. It’s like building a muscle at the gym. As you have a variety of experiences, as you “put in the reps,” you slowly become better at dealing with uncertainty.
- Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that could happen”? Sometimes we get really anxious when uncertainty hits, but we don’t really even know what we are anxious about. Sometimes it can be helpful to play the whole track and think about the worst thing that could happen. When you do that, you might realize that even if the worst thing happens, it wouldn’t be that bad. You would still survive.
- View uncertainty as an opportunity. It can be helpful to reframe uncertainty as an opportunity for adventure. The future is open—which might be a good thing! You have an opportunity to blaze your own trail and try to create the outcome you want. Even if your uncertain situation initially feels like an obstacle, might there be some kind of opportunity in your obstacle?
How do you usually react when you face uncertainty? What have you found to be helpful when you navigate uncertain times?