Learning to live and do well in an uncertain world
Uncertainty is part of life, and at times there are events that happen that are out of our control. How we live can change very quickly and in very unpredictable ways. As we are living through the coronavirus pandemic we are more aware that ever that things can change abruptly.
As everyone around the world is dealing with the same situation, and we know it is important to protect people’s health, we follow the recommendations of keeping physical distance while reaching out in different ways to feel connected with others.
However, at times we may find it too difficult to not know how things will unfold, so our mind is full of “What-if” questions, imagining possible negative scenarios. Worrying affects our mood, and it reduces our ability to problem-solve the situation. In addition, it is tiring and can affect our confidence in our ability to cope with events.
Reframe: keep an open mind
It is important to acknowledge the situation and focus on understanding what is happening. By having an open mind and adopting a flexible attitude, we can change our perspective. Instead of viewing it as an insurmountable problem, we can view it as a challenge.
Understanding and regulating emotions
When circumstances are out of our control, we may feel intense emotions fueled by fear of possible negative scenarios. We all react differently – we may bottle up emotions believing it will pass somehow – or we can deny the challenges in front of us.
Denying or surpressing emotions is unhelpful, and it can lead to negative effects on our health.
Instead, we need to acknowledge our feelings and understand our reactions. These are signals letting us know what is important to us. This way, we can reduce stress and be in a better place to deal with our circumstances.
If you notice a need to seek reassurance, take a moment to breathe and relax your muscles. Looking for reassurance is an attempt to create some certainty, but it only is for a short while. This creates more uncertainty and distress. Learning to tolerate the feeling of unease without any expectation. Then, look for something that you can do in the moment. By taking a moment to reflect, and ease the tension, you can tap into your creativity to identify alternatives.
Pay attention to Now
When dealing with uncertainty, our worry thoughts tend to be about the future. Rather than focusing on negative future scenarios, bring your attention to the present moment. You can do this by directing your attention to what is happening now. To reduce tension, pay attention to your breathing. This will relax your muscles and restore balance. Mindfulness exercises are a helpful way to gently bring your attention to the present, relax muscles, and reduce worry thoughts.