woman laughing on flower field
Mental Health, Psychology, Self

Better Ways to Embrace Uncertainty

The world around us is an uncertain place. From chaotic weather to even more chaotic politics, it seems like you can’t get a stable foothold before everything is turned topsy-turvy again. Our society is changing at the speed of light and it can seem like all that’s left for the rest of us is to play a game of cosmic catch-up. We have to learn how to embrace the uncertainty if we ever hope to thrive.

Change is a natural part of life, but within all change lies uncertainty. To grow means to leave what we’ve known behind in the search for higher climes. It’s unfamiliar, it’s off-putting, and it can feel like stumbling through the dark. This is precisely what we must do in order to grow, though. We have to embrace the uncertainty and start to know it as a part of this process known as life.

Change is a part of every age in life.

As humans, we are generally creatures of habit which prefer to seek off-putting comfort over uncomfortable growth. We will stay in all the wrong places if it means that we don’t have to leap into the unknown, or face up to that sense of anxiety and longing that is plaguing out every waking life. In order to break out of this pattern of unfulfilling heartache, we must accept that change and uncertainty are a part of every phase of life.

No matter what you do — no matter who becomes president, or what rules you play by — you will always be faced by challenges, decisions to make, and uncertainty waiting on the other side. Life is impossible to predict, no matter how successful you might be or what you might achieve.

There is no outrunning change. It is everywhere around us, and within us — happening all the time and (very often) without our notice or our permission. We have to reshape the way we see ourselves, so that we can learn to see this uncertainty as opportunity and an entirely new shot at life. Let go of the fear, the anger, and the attachment to impermanence. Rather than clinging to what never was, embrace the power of what is still yet to come.

Why we struggle to accept change.

Everyone — to some extent — struggles to accept the change in their lives. The reasons for this can vary, but generally it comes down to our experiences and the different ways in which we perceive and feel fear in regards to the unexpected. When you fail to focus on the future, while resolving the pain of your past, you can end up stuck in a rut that makes it hard to embrace the opportunity that’s all around you.

A history of upset

Do you have a long and traumatic history of upset? Was your childhood turbulent, or filled with violent and vicious changes that kept you perpetually in a state of upset and uncertainty? This can make it impossibly hard to deal with and confront change in our adult lives. Because we learn to associate the unknown with pain and negativity, it becomes engrained in us that all change is bad and uncertainty only leads to heartache.

Loss of status or security

Change means a lot of different things to different people, but when it comes to changing the way you think or believe it can come with some real risks. Among those risks is the potential for a shift in your current environment. Perhaps these new adjustments will change the way people see us, or the security we find in both our jobs and / or our communities. The uncertainty we find in this change is a fear of losing our social groups or the acceptance that we find within those groups thanks to our similarities.

Failing to plan ahead

Planning is an essential part of adult life, but too often we allow ourselves to get so overwhelmed by our current place in the world that we fail to make plans for the future. Much of the fear we feel around uncertainty arises because we are unsure of our resources, our abilities, or even our support networks. By learning how to plan for the future, and ensuring that we take coordinated action ahead of time, we can eliminate a lot of that uncertainty.

Mental health issues

Are you struggling with mental health issues or feelings of hopelessness? When we’re stuck in the painful patterns of mental illness, it’s impossible to look toward an uncertain future with anything but more dread and anxiety. We have to accept our pain and find ways to cope and work through it. Once we have discovered ways to deal with our complex negative emotions and reactions, we can start getting serious about seeing opportunities in our futures.

Fear of the unknown

Perhaps one of the most common reasons we humans fail to embrace uncertainty is our inherent fear of change. We human beings are creatures of habit. We are comforted by our routines and the stability which their known outcomes provide. When those outcomes become obscured, however, or we find ourselves dealing with new experiences we’ve never navigated before, we can become uncertain of ourselves and therefore fearful of the uncertainty. The only way to overcome this fear of the unknown is to embrace it wholeheartedly.

Non-existent self-esteem

Do you struggle with low self-esteem? Do you think little of yourself or the abilities or capabilities which you have to confront life with? Low or non-existent self-esteem will cause you to live in constant fear of life and all the experiences in it. Rather than embracing change, you will begin to see it as just another opportunity for heartbreak or the inevitable pain and regret that you see around every corner. When we boost our self-esteem, we enable ourselves to see change as a thing to be embraced, rather than feared. And we know we have what it takes to survive, whether we succeed or fail.

Surrounded by bad seeds

The people we surround ourselves with are important, and they provide a lot of perspective and insight into what we want and who we are. They can also be the barriers which protect us, and the supporters who spur us on. When we surround ourselves with bad people, though, or those who seek only to take advantage — we can find ourselves taking on their bad habits and traits (like fearing the world). Life, after all, is like garden; when you allow the weeds to take root, they suck out all the nutrients and block out all the light so the beautiful plants can’t thrive. We have to avoid seeking support and validation from the wrong people.

Short attention span

When we are undergoing deep levels of transformation, there is a certain focus and awareness that has to be maintained. Those with a short attention span can find themselves flitting from project to project, or experience to experience, without fully thinking through the repercussions or how they really want to proceed. When we are confronted by uncertainty, we often have to give ourselves space to think through our responses and how we want to proceed. This is a process that can’t be rushed.

Lack of emotional awareness

Emotional awareness is one of the greatest skills we can cultivate in this life, with numerous benefits that make our lives both easier and more efficient. Those with a high level of emotional awareness are generally those who are confident, self-assured, and in control of their emotional responses. They are more comfortable with change, because they are confident in their personal abilities. When we live with low emotional awareness, however, we are ruled by our feelings and often find that we are uncomfortable with uncertainty. We lash out and spiral, rather than thinking things through thoroughly.

The best ways to shed your fear and embrace the uncertainty.

You can shed your fear and start embracing the uncertainty. By figuring out who you are, you can increase your confidence and discover a higher state of emotional thinking. Then, you can focus on what you can control, shifting the state of your thoughts, and anchoring yourself within a meaningful and fulfilling existence — no matter what chaos rages around you.

1. Figure out exactly who you are

Do you know who you are? Beyond that, do you know what you want from your life? Or what you want from your friendships and relationships? These are important answers to have, and they can give us the clarity to navigate major change and uncertainty. When you know exactly who you are, you are more confident and better equipped to stay focused, motivated, and intent — despite the chaos of the world that churns around you.

When you know who you are, you can find a path forward no matter your circumstances. That’s because you’ll know what your values are, you’ll know what you want, and you’ll know what you need from others. By next focusing on your self-esteem, you can then shed your fears and know that you’ll always be capable enough to get yourself where you need to go.

Take a step back from the 24 hour news cycle. Get some space from your responsibilities and all the pressure. Find 10–15 quiet minutes to yourself and spend it journalling about who you are and what you want (every single day). Really zero-in on your values, be radically honest, and look for people, places, and experience that ties in to your expectations and hopes.Despite the chaos, you can find a way to live in peace and harmony with your environment. You just need to know who you are first.

2. Discover higher emotional thinking

Our emotions are important, and they can help guide us toward the people and things that bring us meaning and purpose in this world. They can also serve to distract us, however, and they can make things more painful and complicated when they aren’t addressed and managed appropriately. By bringing ourselves to a state of higher emotional awareness, we can let go of feelings like fear and other negative emotions that hold us back or keep us small.

Tap into a greater sense of emotional awareness. When something in your environment shifts, immediately take some space and use it to address and consider any emotions that arise. Question your feelings. What is it about this experience or shift in expectations that is making you feel anxious, hopeless, or otherwise aggravated? Are you upset by the change, or the memories you associate with other (separate) events?

Life isn’t actually good or bad. It just is. We wouldn’t know that things were good if they weren’t occasionally bad. We wouldn’t know things were bad if we didn’t have some concept of when it was good. The quality of our lives is a culmination of these experiences — not the sum of only the enjoyable situations that occur. When we discover a state of high emotional awareness, we can detach from our fear of change and learn to manage our emotions effectively and appropriately.

3. Focus on the things you can control

While you can’t control every aspect of your environment, there are certain aspects you can control. Finding peace within uncertainty requires that we both let go and embrace at the same time. We push away those things which are out of reach and fully engage with those things which are within our grasp. This begins by a radical transformation within and then is followed by a focused approach to living on the outside.

More than anything else, you can control the state of your mind, your heart, and your body. No one else controls your thoughts but you. If you are treated badly or disrespected (on some level) it’s because you allow it. Get control of your thoughts. Understand that you are the boss of your emotions and your reactions.

Take back your body and your mind, little-by-little. Then look outward. What aspects of your life are under your control. Take a full audit of where you’re at, then compare it to where you want to go. What are some concrete steps you can take, which are totally within your domain of skill? Start small and work your way up. Consider where you live, where you work, your relationships, and the vision you have for yourself and your future.

4. Insist on a positive outlook

Our thoughts are powerful, and they go a long way to shape the quality of our lives and the relationships we build. If you are someone who is consumed by negative beliefs and thoughts, it can lead to negative actions which bring even more negative feedback and experiences into your life. This reaffirms your fears of uncertainty. When you are someone who insists on seeing the brighter side, though, it’s easy to look at the unknown with optimism.

You have to start insisting on a more positive outlook. When see the silver lining in new opportunities, you begin to lose touch with your fear. You get excited about branching out, excited about growing into unknown places. The quality of your thoughts can directly impact the quality of your life — and this is doubly true where our hesitation around change comes in.

This (of course) isn’t a process that happens overnight. We have to retrain our thoughts just as we would retrain our muscles. When you feel the fear bubbling up to the surface, imagine yourself stepping away from it while looking at it from a detached place. Then question it and analyze it honestly. Once you’ve seen the fear for what it is, replace it with a positive thought. Rather than imagining failure, imagine what it will feel like when you succeed.

5. Anchor yourself to a meaningful life

Living in this uncertain world can feel like being a ship lost at sea. You’re at the mercy of the elements all around you, and sometimes there’s no amount of positive thinking or “letting go” that can help you make sense of the chaos. Though we might be buffeted around by the maelstrom, we can still find a way to let go of our fear and find peace. We have to find meaning, though, and persist in radical joy.

Anchor yourself to a meaningful life and do it by consciously filling your day-to-day with kindness, joy, and compassion. Love people deeply, and only accept friends, family, and lovers who return this affection honestly. Be kind to others and always look for the pain behind their barbs.

Do things that make your pulse race. Have dinner parties. Travel with your best friend. There are a million little ways we can surround ourselves with light; a thousand different techniques we can use to ground ourselves in joy. There is nothing quite like learning how to be present, though, and happy despite the pain and the darkness all around. Want to lose your fear when it comes to the never-ending change? Build an inner world founded on love.

Putting it all together…

The world we’re living in is an uncertain one, and that uncertainty can be both scary and exhausting. In order to hold any hope of building a world we can all be proud of, we have to learn to confront of our fear of change and find peace in the chaos of it all. This usually begins by understanding why we’re so fearful of uncertainty, then working to undo that fear by taking action in the name of our joy.

Figure out who you are and what you want from life. Establish a confidence so bold that no unknown is strong enough to discourage you. Self-esteem boosted, tap into your emotional awareness and master the art of controlling your feelings and the reactions they inspire. When we gain control and awareness of how our moods and emotions impact us, we become better equipped to make informed, efficient decisions in the name of our happiness. Focus on the things you can control and let go of those things which are at the mercy of outside forces. You are the boss of your thoughts; insist on a positive outlook and replace your fear with dreams of a silver lining. Then anchor yourself within a meaningful life. Surround yourself with people, places, and things which bring you so much joy that the uncertainty doesn’t daunt you. Ground yourself in light and love and allow fate to take care of the rest.

Get more great articles like this one by following me on Medium.