3 ways to cope with uncertainty

3 Ways to Cope with Uncertainty

Living with so much uncertainty is hard and for all of us we certainly have this in abundance at the moment with the current worldwide situation.  Our lives as we know them have been turned upside down, we have lost loved ones, livelihoods, and feel uncertainty about what our futures will hold.   We are all facing some form of uncertainty on a daily basis.   As humans we are curious beings, we want answers or to make sense of what is happening around us. At the moment this is difficult as most of what is happening is out of our control because all our familiar routines have been massively disrupted. 

When we are feeling uncertain, confused and unclear it is natural to want certainty about everything right at this moment.  A lack of certainty or normality in our lives can feel overwhelming and unmanageable.  We can lose clarity, focus and begin to procrastinate because we don’t know where to begin to alleviate the overwhelm we are feeling.   This can lead to us feeling stressed and anxious

So how do we learn to live with ambiguity and uncertainty? 

What would it look like it we didn’t resist it but instead accepted it? 

So how do we cope when everything feels so out of control? 

If we can learn to sit with our uncertainty there is potential wisdom in it and we can learn from it.

When we resist, we prolong our discomfort and hinder our recovery,  personal growth and mental well-being. If we practice acceptance, we can gain a sense of control, a sense of purpose and finally some clarity and focus in our lives. 

Acceptance allows us to see the reality of the situation in the present moment.  It frees us up to move forward and allows us to see the reality of the situation, rather than feel paralysed and fearful.

Acceptance isn’t about giving up, its about accepting that things won’t stay the same forever – we are just accepting what may be happening in that moment.  That is what is in our control.

Of course, it will understandably feel hard to do this at first, it will feel unfamiliar but stick with it as it is the most effective way to move forward.

Here I look at ways in which we can accept, explore and potentially embrace uncertainty as an opportunity to grow and have pulled together some key techniques that I use with my clients.  I hope will help you reflect and let some clarity emerge from your current situation. 

So grab some paper, or your journal, a pen, and a nice cup of tea or coffee.   Before you begin take a moment to sit quietly in a chair, feet on the ground, close your eyes and take five slow, deep breaths in and out. How do you feel, where in your body do you feel it – just take a moment to notice. Here. Now. What are you thinking, how are you feeling?  Capture your thoughts before you begin.

1) Stay in the “here and now”

Focus on the day ahead rather than thinking on longer term plans.  Think about what is in your control right now and today.  Also think about what resources you have available, these could be previous life experiences that helped you deal with uncertainty, or a friend or colleague you were able to reach out to.

Shut out any distractions, put your phone on silent and sit and relax for a moment as you complete this exercise.

I advise my clients to do an exercise called the circle of control which Steven R Covey created in his book of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.

Draw 3 circles inside of each other like the image below.

circle of control, circle of influence

Working from the outside in, categorise your worries into those which you can:

  • Accept – these concerns are outside of your control and influence. Try to let these go and focus on what you can influence and control.
  • Influence – be realistic about the concerns you can influence. Score your influence on a scale of 1-10 and any concern scoring lower than 5, move to ‘Accept’.
  • Control – direct your time and energy towards the elements that you can control. This will minimise feelings of overwhelm and frustration.

2) Create a healthy routine

When you feel uncertain, having a few tiny rituals or routines you can count on can help. 

These can be simple tasks that you commit to do on a daily basis until they become healthy habit and help you feel a bit more grounded and comforted.   

A recent routine I have adopted is to write a “done list”at the end of my day listing out all my completed tasks. We are so used to writing “to do” lists and then discarding them without taking any time to recognise what we have accomplished that day.  You can see clearly that you are taking action and moving forward and not distracted by feelings of uncertainty during the day.

 To come up with a few of your own, ask yourself these questions: What helps me feel centered and steady? What gives me a moment of peace of comfort when there’s a lot going on?



3) Questions to ask yourself

Think about someone you admire (could be someone you know or a public figure) who has moved forward in the face of uncertainty. What do you imagine they thought, felt, saw?  Then answer these questions:

  1. What do I currently have?
  2. What don’t I have?
  3. What do I want?
  4. What don’t I want?
  5. What would you like to happen now that is not happening now?
  6. What is clearer to me now?
  7. How can I embrace uncertainty as an essential part of life?

Draw it out on a piece of paper, speak it or write it out.

I hope you have found these exercises useful.  I work with a number of clients who are feeling overwhelmed and uncertain because of their current circumstances.  I help them gain some clarity and greater understanding about their situation, helping them identify ways in which they can achieve a greater sense of control and wellbeing in their lives.

Perhaps I can help you?   I offer a free no obligation consultation to see how I can help, you can read more about how I work here.

3 ways to cope with uncertainty, 3 ways to cope with uncertainty, 3 ways to cope with uncertainty, 3 ways to cope with uncertainty, 3 ways to cope with uncertainty, 3 ways to cope with uncertainty, 3 ways to cope with uncertainty, 3 ways to cope with uncertainty

Pin It on Pinterest