7 strategies to help you live with uncertainty

7 strategies to help you live with uncertainty

via TED Ideas by Christine Carter

What should we do when everything feels so out of control?

Living with so much uncertainty is hard. Human beings crave information about the future in the same way we crave food, sex and other primary rewards. Our brains perceive ambiguity as a threat, and they try to protect us by diminishing our ability to focus on anything other than creating certainty.

But sometimes — maybe always — it’s more effective for us not to attempt to create certainty. 

Though evolution might have rigged our brains to resist uncertainty, we can never really know what the future will bring. And during improbable situations like the pandemic, which has massively disrupted our routines and utterly destroyed our best-laid plans, we need to learn to live with ambiguity.

“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is,” wrote mathematician John Allen Paulos. “Knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”

So how can we best cope when everything feels so out of control?

Here are seven strategies.

1. Don’t resist

There’s no doubt: We are living through challenging times.

But resisting this current reality won’t help us recover, learn, grow or feel better. Ironically, resistance prolongs our pain and difficulty by amplifying the challenging emotions we are feeling. There is real truth to the aphorism that what we resist persists.

There’s an alternative.

Instead of resisting, we can practice acceptance. Research by psychologist Kristin Neff and her colleagues has shown that acceptance — particularly self-acceptance — is a counterintuitive secret to happiness. Acceptance is about meeting life where it is and moving forward from there.

Because acceptance allows us to see the reality of the situation in the present moment, it frees us up to move forward, rather than remaining paralyzed or being made ineffective by uncertainty, fear or argument.

To practice acceptance, we surrender our resistance to a problematic situation and also to our emotions about the situation. For example, you might find your marriage to be particularly challenging right now. Instead of criticizing or blaming your spouse — two tactics that are about resistance — you could calmly accept your marriage for the time being.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t feel frustrated or disappointed or saddened by the state of things. A big part of acceptance is accepting how we feel about difficult circumstances and difficult people in our lives. But allowing our challenging marriage to be as it is right now — and acknowledging our own feelings about it — puts us in a better position to move forward.

To be clear, acceptance is not the same as resignation. Accepting a situation doesn’t mean it will never get better. We aren’t accepting that things will stay the same forever; we’re only accepting  whatever is actually happening at the moment.

We can work to make our marriage happier, while at the same time allowing the reality that right now, this relationship or situation is complicated. Maybe it will get better; maybe it won’t.

Practicing acceptance in the face of difficulty is hard, but it’s also the most effective way to move forward.

2. Invest in yourself

The best resource that you have right now for making a contribution to the world is YOU. When that resource is depleted, your most valuable asset is damaged. In other words: When we underinvest in our bodies, minds or spirits, we destroy our most essential tools for leading our best lives.

We humans don’t do well when we defer maintenance on ourselves. We need to sustain the relationships that bring us connection and meaning; we must get enough sleep and rest when we are tired; and we need to spend time having fun and playing, just for the joy of it.

Don’t be confused: Self-care is not selfish. Selfishness is an anxious focus on the self. Selfish people tend to refer back to themselves by using words like I, me and mine. They pursue extrinsic goals, such as preserving a youthful appearance or cultivating an image of themselves on social media. They often hunger for more money, power or approval from others. This sort of self-focus is linked to stress, anxiety, depression and health problems such as heart disease. So, I’m definitely not recommending selfishness. I’m suggesting self-care and personal growth….

… keep reading the full & original article HERE

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