In our world today, there are numerous situations that can foster uncertainty in many of our lives.
The thing is, humans dislike uncertainty in most cases; yet some deal with it better than others. Countless studies link a high intolerance of uncertainty to stress, anxiety disorders, OCD, depression, PTSD, and eating disorders.
Although you can’t always control and lessen the uncertainty of a certain world situation, you can learn to decrease the intolerance of your uncertainty by using the following strategies!
Even though we’re faced with uncertain situations daily, often we find ways to avoid feeling the discomfort of facing them.
Let’s look at a few examples.
When you’re not entirely sure how to best move forward with a work assignment, you may either immediately look for someone to help you, over-research, or procrastinate on it.
As you get ready for your day, uncertainty about the traffic or weather can be quickly dissolved by checking your phone’s built-in weather app.
In the same way, any thoughts about family or friends’ whereabouts and emotions can be instantly gratified by texting them or checking their social media channels.
This continuous avoidance of uncertainty can lead to short-term relief, but can minimise your ability to tolerate anything that is not 100% certain in the long run.
Tolerance for uncertainty is like a muscle that gets weaker if it’s not used. So, consider working that muscle next time you are facing an uncertain situation.
And you can start doing this gradually. For example, resist the urge to compulsively check Google Maps next time you’re lost and are not under pressure in terms of time.
Or, how about going to a concert without Googling the band beforehand.
What if you tried to sit with the feeling of uncertainty for a while before you go texting-psycho on your boyfriend when he’s running late.
With time, this feeling of discomfort will start to lessen.
Have you found what gives meaning to your life? Finding, or rediscovering, your life purpose can help you deal with uncertainty, and the stress and anxiety that can come with it.
Try to focus on things that go beyond our limited, human existence. Maybe it’s religion, spirituality, dedication to a cause, or following your passion – any of these factors could potentially decrease worry and depression that’s fuelled by uncertainty.
Maybe you dread uncertainty because you’re scared of what could happen if things turned out badly. And maybe you don’t trust your ability to cope with the negative events that life throws at you.
The majority of people overestimate just how terrible they will feel when something shitty happens. They also tend to underestimate their coping abilities.
Well, newsflash. It turns out that humans are generally pretty damn resilient, even in the face of hugely traumatic or stressful events. If a feared outcome does materialise, chances are that you’ll deal with it better than you could possibly imagine. Keep this in mind the next time uncertainty starts to sink in.
You’ve probably heard it so many times: Get enough sleep, exercise, and prioritise meaningful social connections if you want to have a happy and prosperous life.
But, did you know that the quality of your sleep (and how much you get of it) is also related to your ability to cope with uncertainty?
Also – exercise, especially in the form of cardio, can drastically increase your capacity to cope with uncertain situations, as well as lower stress levels, anxiety, and depression. In some cases, regular exercise can even completely prevent the onset of anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorders.
One of the best tools for coping with uncertainty is ensuring that you have a meaningful and active social life. When a person feels lonely, their sense of safety is undermined, and this makes it pretty hard to deal with the unpredictability of life.
Even having a few family members or friends that you feel close to can protect you from many of these physical and psychological problems.
If there’s one thing you have to accept, it’s that nothing is 100% certain in life! The sooner you start thinking about that, the easier it’ll be for you to face and come to terms with it.
What’s more, repeated attempts at predicting and controlling everything in your life can detrimentally backfire, ending up in psychological problems, such as OCD.
Embrace the reality of uncertainty, hang on, and enjoy the ride!
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