If you live on the east coast you've probably been through at least one hurricane. In Florida we've been through several severe storms over the years. The meteorologists often talk about the "cone of uncertainty" when describing the projected path of the hurricane. Of course we all would prefer certainty in their predictions. Not knowing with accuracy the direction it will take puts all of us on edge. We want to deal with the situation but can't predict the effects of the storm. Life is no different. Uncertainty in life creates anxiety and fear, and sometimes frustration and anger too. We might have uncertainty about our career path, relationship, health, and/or financial stability. Over time we can get worn down by uncertainty and living in limbo. It takes a toll on our bodies when our sleep is disturbed, our eating habits are poor, and we don't exercise. Long-term stress can have serious detrimental effects on our health and personal relationships. So how do we deal with uncertainty?
One of the main reasons uncertainty wreaks havoc with us is the lack of control. In the case of hurricanes we are trying to predict something like weather changes that we have no immediate control over yet we still make predictions and projections. Of course, as humans we seek knowledge and understanding about life events and circumstances which is understandable. We certainly have made scientific advances with new technological developments that have advanced our prediction abilities, yet uncertainty remains. In life there are things we can control and things we can't control. Many of my patients want to learn how to control their thoughts and emotions which is a very good focus. But they have a harder time accepting the people, places, and things they can't control. Leaning into our faith and giving our Creator those things we can't control can help us reduce our anxiety and worry. Increasing our prayer time can greatly decrease our stress when we're confronted with a situation (hurricane) that we can't control.
Coping with uncertainty may require us to stop our catastrophic mindset and our fixation on worst case scenarios by reframing our thinking and using thought stopping. Instead of focusing on the uncertainty, reframe the situation into a window of opportunity to complete a project that you've been putting off or to clear out clutter that has been accumulating. Another effective tool is relaxation, meditation and yoga to calm oneself. Distraction can also help with coping whether it involves watching a movie, listening to music, or working on a home project. We need to limit our exposure to the news and weather reports only checking periodically to get an update. At times of crisis we can draw closer to others, reach out to friends and family, and make more of an effort to connect with neighbors. I believe that our relationships are our greatest asset and resource. We are social beings and need each other so use this time of uncertainty to intentionally connect with others. My challenge for you is to build, nurture, and grow healthy relationships (with God too) since that can be the best remedy for dealing with uncertainty.