How to be Comfortable with Uncertainty

Uncertainty is defined as a lack of confidence or clarity in one's ideas, decisions, or intentions.

Uncertainty is defined by The American Psychological Association as a lack of confidence or clarity in one’s ideas, decisions, or intentions. Uncertainty can also be a state in which the outcome of something is not accurately known. Our contemporary society is filled with uncertainty. We experience uncertainty with relationships, job security, housing, health problems, global events, climate change etc. Most recently, the pandemic surged an unprecedented uncertainty in the outcome of the global transmission of a potentially life-threatening virus. It may be hard to imagine what the benefits of experiencing uncertainty are, but learning to become comfortable with uncertainty may be one of the most rewarding actions to take for yourself. 

Negative emotions associated with uncertainty include fear and anxiety. Our brain has a natural bias to doubt ourselves and our ability to manage unexpected outcomes. Essentially, we fear uncertainty because we are scared of the possibility that we will experience pain or suffering. It is key to recognize that negative reactions to uncertainty will not alter the outcome. Change happens no matter what! Becoming comfortable with uncertainty is an incredible asset because you will be able to deal with new things using a strong sense of self and therefore no longer have a reason to fear them. 

Together, we can use uncertainty to our advantage and enhance our lives. Staying in a situation simply because it is comfortable may be against your best interest. For example, remaining in a job you are overqualified for because you are scared of failing, or remaining in an unhealthy relationship because you are scared of feeling alone. Seeds of opportunity lie in the unexpected. If you never face the uncertainty of change, you may never reach your full potential. As Eckhart Tolle said in his book A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose “If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.”

If you believe embracing uncertainty will benefit your life. Try any or all of the ideas below to foster a sustainable change in perspective. 

  1. Practice gratitude. To practice gratitude, experience joy in the unknown. When faced with an uncertain situation or something new, challenge your thoughts and identify something positive that has come from the experience. 
  2. Reframe thoughts. To reframe thoughts and shift your perspective, be inquisitive. When faced with an uncertain situation or something new you are worried about ask yourself what the worst case scenario would be. Usually, it is not that bad and the potential opportunities will outweigh the risk. 
  3. Establish coping mechanisms. To establish coping mechanisms, create a coping toolkit as a collection of strategies to help one manage stress and express emotions in a healthy way. When faced with an uncertain situation, the use of coping mechanisms will allow you to channel stress or anxiety into a powerful tool. 
  4. Do new things. To do something new, start small by learning new hobbies or planning activities. When faced with an uncertain situation, you will have increased confidence in your self-efficacy and ability to deal with a situation. 
  5. Treat yourself with kindness. To treat yourself with kindness, practice self-compassion with the decisions that you make. When faced with an uncertain situation, look at all your decisions as learning opportunities rather than successes or failures. 

All in all, in a world full of uncertainty, focus on what you can control! While everyone may have a different starting point, we are still all in this together. No change is ever too small. If you believe you may benefit from personalized support and guidance to embrace uncertainty, our team of therapists look forward to hearing from you! 

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