How to Reduce Your “Uncertain Future Stress”
How to Feel Less Stressed About the Uncertain Future by Dr Amy Johnson via tinybuddha.com
“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” ~Tony Robbins
“Uncertainty” may be one of the least popular places to hang out.
Wide open views and unlimited possibilities aren’t all they are cracked up to be.
Most of us, it seems, want to know. We want to know where we’ll live, what our next career will look like, and how it will all go down.
It almost doesn’t matter if what we know is accurate, beneficial, or true.
We aren’t searching for truth or clarity or insight as much as we’re simply searching for something reliable to grab ahold of.
But the more I’ve worked to foster inner peace and the more I’ve tested the uncertainty waters with curiosity and a little less fear, the more I think uncertainty gets a bad rap. Maybe it doesn’t have to be so bad.
Here are four steps we can take to make uncertainty bearable. Exciting, even.
4 Tips to Feel Less Stressed About the Uncertain Future by Dr Amy Johnson via tinybuddha.com
When uncertainty strikes, our mind goes to work trying to predict how things will turn out. We choose from the options that are apparent to us—the ones we can see in the moment. But those options are never the whole story.
In the middle of uncertainty-induced anxiety, our vision narrows, literally and metaphorically. Flight or fight takes over and our vision literally focuses sharply while our brain diverts resources to survival, leaving no energy for creative problem-solving.
Know that this is what is happening and remind yourself that there are options that you can’t possibly see right now. Just because you see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
Acknowledge that there is a whole lot that you don’t know that you don’t know—and that some of those unknown, currently unforeseeable options will make you very, very happy.
In 5, 10, 20 years from now, you will feel grateful for things you can’t even imagine today.
Let your thoughts be fluid. Allow them to float in and out of your mind rather than making them rigid or fixed.
When we want to know what’s going to happen, we do what Pema Chodron calls “concretize our thoughts.” We make them feel real and solid, like concrete. They become unyielding, even when they are so often fear-based and not true.
Rather than turning your frantic thoughts into concrete, allow them to float by as if on water. Encourage mental movement so that better thoughts can eventually float in.
“I’m not sure what’s coming but I’ll handle it” is better than, “What’s going on here?!?”
“The unknown feels scary, but I’ve been here before” is much better than, “This feels like torture!”
Again, it’s about slowing down your thoughts a little. Soften them, take the edge off, and lean into uncertainty.
No one is suggesting you dive in head first and savor every second of it. Not yet, anyway. Just dip a toe in the water and see that you can “do” uncertainty.
Like most things in life, it’s scarier to think about than it is to actually experience.
Remember all the uncertainty in your past and how it always worked itself out. It really has, hasn’t it?
Certainty is an illusion. It’s not real and it has no real connection with how well things turn out.
Try to remember a few times when you felt completely lost and uncertain only to experience an amazing outcome.
There are moments of uncertainty in life. There always have been and there always will be. Sometimes things turn out the way you want them to, sometimes they don’t.
Accepting the uncertainty rather than trying to fight it, remembering that there are amazing outcomes you can’t predict right now, and leaning into it help make it infinitely more tolerable.
Once you’ve mastered “tolerable,” maybe you can take that leap to actually reveling in the wide open possibilities of uncertainty. But first things, first.
Photo by pommekiwi1
Dr. Amy Johnson is a psychologist, master certified coach, and author of Modern Enlightenment: Psychological, Spiritual, and Practical Ideas for a Better Life.