How To Manage Uncertainty in Uncertain Times
The world is in the grip of a global pandemic.
We are living in extremely uncertain times – and that uncertainty can be difficult to cope with.
You may feel worried right now.
You may struggle to keep anxious thoughts in check. And you may feel unsure about the future.
But help is at hand – you CAN learn to live with uncertainty.
Facing Uncertainty is Scarier than Facing Physical Pain
In 2016, a group of London researchers explored how people react to being told they will either “definitely” or “probably” receive a painful electric shock. They discovered an intriguing paradox.
Volunteers who knew they would definitely receive a painful electric shock felt calmer and were measurably less agitated than those who were told they only had a 50 percent chance of receiving the electric shock.
Uncertainty Ignites our Primitive Survival Instinct
If we can’t neutralise a perceived threat, we engage in the unhelpful process called “worry”.
We grapple with whatever the problem is to find solutions to the threat, but there are none.
Does this make us feel better? No, of course it doesn’t – it makes us feel worse.
In our need for certainty, we are wired to “catastrophise” – we view or talk of a situation as worse than it actually is. This leads to worry, which in turn leads to anxiety.
The modern brain struggles to distinguish between a real threat and a perceived threat.
The result is that the primitive brain takes over and triggers the primitive survival instinct – fight-or-flight.
It asks questions:
What is going to happen…?
What is around the corner for me…?
Should I be doing more…?
Should I be doing less…?
What if my business is threatened…?
What if my livelihood is threatened…?
What if my life is threatened…?
The lack of answers can lead to wondering how we can mitigate uncertainty.
What Can we do to Mitigate Uncertainty?
There are a number of things we can do to lessen the effects of uncertainty:
- Awareness is your superpower – be aware of your feelings and emotions
- Notice the “worry story” you are telling yourself – try to distance yourself from it
- Focus on breathing – long slow breaths
- Recognise the need to rise above fight-or-flight
- Accept uncertainty – allow yourself to stop the struggle
- Stand up to Anxiety with Some Mood-Boosters:
- Exercise and movement
- Meditation and self-hypnosis
- Achievement-oriented activity
- Something pleasant or fun
Just 15 to 20 minutes a day, focussing on yourself, will help you regain a sense of balance.
The more you practice all these strategies, the better you will become! To help you with the mood-boosting, check out my free download here.
Photo from unsplash-logo by Noah Silliman