UPDATED 1/22/2019 The feeling of instability and insecurity in America is an all-encompassing reality. It’s a world problem, and it’s a personal issue. While you can’t solve the world’s problems, you can transform your uncertainty, so it doesn’t lead to anger.
Life is uncertain
Do you ever feel like you’re walking a tight rope, trying to balance all the unknowns in the world unsure if you’ll succeed or fail? It’s likely you’ve felt this way at some point in your life. Whether it’s personal stressors or society that drove you to feel this way.
It’s impossible to avoid the headlines that fill our days. They’re full of outrage from violence to the political rhetoric in Washington dividing the nation. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, the divisiveness and anger on both sides lead to uncertainty.
You may wonder will I be able to retire, are we headed toward another recession, are we in a housing bubble?
Uncertainty is an undercurrent in our always-on, globally-connected world. On top of the world concerns that personally impact us, there are concerns within our own lives. Together, these worries lead to anxiety and stress, and for some, it may even trigger anger.
Dealing with uncertainty, though, means putting it into perspective. Life’s always been uncertain – whether it’s today or decades ago. Think about the unknowns Americans faced during the Great Depression or the World Wars.
“The only certainty is that nothing is certain.”
— Pliny the Elder
(Roman author and philosopher)
So, if life is uncertain how do you deal with it? After all, you can’t control the world, the stock market, or challenges in life. However, you can control how you react to it and feel about it.
How to deal with uncertainty
If you’re ready to tackle uncertainty, recognize that you’re already doing it subconsciously every day. For example, think about crossing the street. There’s no certainty you’ll make it across, but most of us proceed without a second thought.
How about love? When you choose to love another human being, there is no guarantee they will love you back; or, that they will still like you a year, two years, 20 years from now. Or, that they won’t hurt you at some point in the relationship. In fact, love is such a risky endeavor it comes with its own anger triggers.
We cling to the idea of control and certainty in spite of overwhelming evidence that these are nothing more than illusions — a product of our brain’s effort to avoid dealing with fear and the uncertainty of life.
Most often, we experience uncertainty as worry or anxiety, which can be triggered by emotional upheaval, life changes, new possibilities, and shifts in perspective.
As you explore the role uncertainty and anger play in your life, you may feel some resistance and discomfort. That’s completely normal. Your brain means well, yet sometimes it can act in direct opposition to what will benefit you the most in the present moment.
Uncertainty is not “bad” in itself; it’s our tolerance of unpredictability that determines our reaction and the subsequent effect on our life.
The best way to deal with uncertainty is to build up your tolerance. Here are four ways to do that.
First, don’t shy away from the unknown. Face it head-on. Acknowledge it’s there and welcome the possibilities.
If you’re uncertain you’ll get a promotion at work, use it as an opportunity to sharpen your skills or expand your knowledge so you can get another job or get the next promotion.
There are endless possibilities when you embrace a challenge.
Make uncertainty positive
When you think of uncertainty, does it make you apprehensive? Spin those concerns into positivity. It’s possible for it to lead to good, excellent, or even neutral outcomes.
Focus on the positive. It will keep you stress-free.
That can be difficult when your day is full of problems filling your mind with negativity. Instead of dwelling on all that’s gone wrong, find something that’s gone right. If it’s hard to do at the moment, reflect at least once a day.
To begin shifting your mindset, keep a gratitude journal. It will help you focus on the positive rather than the negative, and slowly start a shift in your mindset. So, when the next uncertain situation arises, you’ll think of it in a positive light rather than negative.
Be here now
A lot of times we get stuck in our heads and forget to enjoy the present. If you find yourself obsessing over the what-ifs, try one of these activities:
- Write in your journal
- Have a real life conversation – no phone, no screens, no tech. In fact, it’s powerful to ditch tech altogether. There’s a sort of freedom in a technology timeout, although it’s difficult to do in this ever-connected world.
- Go for a walk or a run.
- Craft or create something with your hands.
Do whatever will interrupt your current thought pattern and redirect your thinking to the positive.
Spiritual teacher and author, Eckhart Tolle, enlightens people to “The Power of Now” in his best-selling book. He describes it as a way to free yourself and live a more enlighted life. He’s living proof it works. The book stems from his journey to find happiness by living his life in the present rather than dwelling on the past.
When you live life this way, you’ll treasure and honor things you probably took for granted or never recognized before.
Mindfulness is a great way to live in the now!
When was the last time you focused on your breath? Take a few minutes to do this. Do you feel different?
With mindfulness, you focus on the present rather than worrying about the past and future. It starts in the purest form – focusing on your breathing. When you focus on your breath, you’ll stay calm rather than getting angry about an uncertain moment.
Steps to overcome uncertainty
Remember, life is always going to be uncertain.
These are four ways to deal with uncertainty:
- Engage uncertainty
- Make uncertainty positive
- Be here now
These are just a few ways to manage uncertainty, so it doesn’t always lead to anger. There are so many more as Travis Bradberry explores in 11 ways emotionally intelligent people overcome uncertainty.
Bottom line: embrace the possibilities. Think how bored you’d be if everything in life were certain.
(Personal Insight MD, LLC, PeopleTweaker, and Insight MD does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you are feeling extreme anger with thoughts and actions harmful to yourself or others such as physical/verbal abuse or acts of violence, find yourself self-medicating with alcohol, illicit drugs, etc., expressing your anger in such a way that threaten relationships or your job, etc. seek professional help immediately and call 911 if necessary if you find yourself in an out-of-control situation or have the urge to hurt yourself or others.)