Raise your hand if you love uncertainty!
Ok, now raise your hand if you’re dealing with uncertainty in your life right now.
Yeah, that one’s universal.
I don’t think there’s anyone on planet earth who loves uncertainty. Some people deal with it better than others, but I think we’re hardwired to crave certainty.
I’m guessing that’s stored somewhere in our limbic brain – the oldest part of our brain in terms of evolution and the part that holds all of our survival responses.
Certainty feels safe and secure. And when we feel safe and secure, our body naturally relaxes. We can take a deep breath. It’s that soft, cozy feeling of everything being ok.
So it seems like a horrible mistake for nature to have put us in a world where there’s nothing but uncertainty.
As the saying goes, the only certainty in life is that nothing is certain.
So, how do we reconcile this divergence we have with nature?
If you’re like me, it creates a lot of suffering from time to time.
From mental anguish – like anxiety, worry, and even panic – to physical pain – like body aches and an upset stomach – uncertainty can be a really painful experience…
…especially when the uncertainty is around something with high stakes – like your job or your relationship or your family or your health.
But if there’s one thing I like less than uncertainty, it’s suffering.
So I’ve done a lot of work over the years to figure out how to reduce my suffering in the wake of uncertainty.
I’m still not an expert at it. It still throws me from time to time. But I’m better than I used to be.
My hope is that what I’ve learned so far can help you, if you’re suffering from the weight of uncertainty right now.
Here are 4 things you can try to help you find relief:
- Consider the Best That Could Happen
Uncertainty is like black box where you have no idea what’s inside. And when we’re dealing with uncertainty, most of us go straight to the worst case scenario, or the many possible worst case scenarios. Hence the reason uncertainty creates anxiety and panic!
But when nothing is certain, everything is possible – and that means really good things can happen too! That means, your BEST case scenario might come true!
Imagine opening your black box of uncertainty and seeing stars and glitter and fairy dust burst out, just like in the picture above!
Since our human brain doesn’t go there naturally, it takes a conscious effort to imagine the good things happening. Take a few seconds to try it now. In whatever uncertain situation you’re dealing with, think about it working out in the best possible way.
Notice how that shifts your energy? Notice how that lifts you up?
Here’s the thing: worry never helps. We think worrying about something will remove some of the pain if the worst actually happens, but it doesn’t. It still feels awful.
If something good happens, though, or if our BEST case scenario works out, we’ve just put ourselves through hours of misery by worrying about something that never happened. And that takes a toll on both our mental health and our physical health.
So when you’re living with uncertainty, spend time consciously focusing on all the good possible outcomes.
Write them down…meditate on them and imagine one of them coming true…draw a picture of one of them and a stick figure of yourself that shows how you’ll feel when it happens.
When our brain can connect a concept with an image, it becomes that much more powerful.
We do that naturally with the bad stuff. Again, that’s why we feel anxiety and panic even when the situation hasn’t happened yet! Just picturing the scenario in our brains can bring on the physical reaction!
The good news is, we can reverse-engineer the process and use it to make ourselves feel better. By picturing good scenarios and focusing on them for a period of time, we can make ourselves feel lighter, happier, and more peaceful.
2. Take Smart Steps
In addition to feeling better, getting your emotions and your brain to a calmer state will help you think more clearly. And when you’re thinking clearly, you can take action, rather than just spinning on worry.
None of us like to feel blindsided, so sometimes it makes sense to take practical steps to protect yourself in case the worst happens. Life insurance is a great example.
So, what could you do now that would bring you more peace if one of your worst case scenarios were to come to fruition?
The key is remaining practical, because we can easily create more anxiety and panic for ourselves by trying to over-prepare or protect ourselves from every single possible bad scenario.
Coaching can be a huge help when you’re working through this process! As a coach, my job is to ask you questions that help you find clarity in really confusing and difficult situations.
So if you don’t know what to do, but you know you need to do something, reach out to me at https://soulfireshift.com/contact and let’s set up a time to chat!
3. Just Feel It
As I mentioned above, uncertainty can bring up some pretty uncomfortable emotions, and those emotions create some pretty uncomfortable sensations in the body.
Our natural instinct is to try and stop those feelings, push them away, or numb them in some way with drugs (prescription or otherwise), alcohol, or distraction (TV, social media, staying “busy”, over-exercising, over-eating, etc.).
But when you refuse to listen to those feelings, they just get stronger and louder and you have to use increasingly more of whatever it is you’re using to keep them at bay.
I know from experience.
Ironically, what I’ve found actually makes the uncomfortable feelings go away, or at least go down, is just feeling them.
Just sit quietly with your eyes closed and feel what’s happening in your body. Watch the sensations wherever they’re happening without trying to change them or resist them. Allow them to come up and do their little jig.
When I do that, the discomfort rises up like a wave and then falls and recedes. And I just watch it do that for a few cycles, or sometimes several cycles, depending on the situation. Eventually I find that the emotion starts to lose power and I start to relax.
Our emotions just want to be seen and recognized. Like a crying child, they want attention, and when we give them our attention from a place of stillness and composure, they start to calm down.
4. SOS Moments
If you’re experiencing high anxiety or even panic, reach out for help. EMDR therapy was a life-changer for me when I was dealing with crippling panic and anxiety back in 2018. I still go back to my therapist from time to time when something comes up and it always helps.
EMDR uses some kind of mechanism to put your brain into a rocking motion – like headphones that play beats in one ear and then the other, or paddles that you hold in your hands and that alternate a buzzing sensation in the right hand and then the left.
This puts the brain into a relaxed state that allows your therapist to help you process trauma…
…and as my therapist says, “isn’t it all trauma?”
What she means by that is that even small things can feel traumatic and be stored as trauma – like the gym teacher who made fun of you in 3rd grade in front of the whole class, or the presentation you messed up in your first job out of college.
When trauma – big or small – isn’t processed, it can come back to haunt you in some weird and surprising ways in your current life.
If the uncertainty you’re dealing with right now is causing intense anxiety or even panic, it could be because your body and subconscious mind are remembering a trauma in your past that is reminiscent of your current situation.
And the problem is, those parts of you don’t recognize language. So you can try to reason with yourself until you’re blue in the face that you’re safe and everything’s ok, but the body and subconscious mind only recognize and feel the unprocessed trauma.
Processing the memory through EMDR can help you drain the emotion from it and find peace with it, and that will often bring peace to your current situation.
If EMDR isn’t your thing, there are lots of other modalities that can successfully treat anxiety, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Finally, for calming the physical response to panic and anxiety, acupuncture works wonders.
Acupuncture helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system that’s responsible for making you feel calm and relaxed. It also helps regulate and control the sympathetic nervous system, which runs your fight or flight response. In my experience, just one session can give you tremendous relief.
And if your acupuncturist is also an herbalist – ask about Chinese herbs for calming anxiety.
I hope these ideas help you find greater serenity as you move through our uncertain world. Know that you’re not alone in the struggle!
And if you’re not in an SOS situation, but you’d love help in developing a more peaceful and productive way to deal with uncertainty, let’s talk about coaching!
You can book a free Meet & Greet session with me here: https://soulfireshift.com/coaching
In the meantime, know that as the black box of your day unfolds, I’m sending you good vibes for the BEST to happen!