3 Ways To Embrace Uncertainty

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase – the only certainty is that nothing is certain. In life, we come face to face with uncertainty on a daily basis. Whether it’s not knowing the outcome of a romantic relationship when it’s hit rocky terrain or feeling unsure about the stability of your job, the “not knowing” makes us uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. 

But you know what comes from being uncomfortable? You guessed it – growth. Before I started my own journey with therapy, I had a very hard time with this. Uncertainty and change were swear words to me, I didn’t embrace the idea – I either ran from it or ruminated to the point of exhaustion.

Anything from not knowing the outcome of a job interview, test, paper, or even not hearing back from a person about plans made would send me into a toxic cycle of obsessive thoughts and crippling anxiety. It was only through speaking with my therapist that I’ve come to this realization: Uncertainty is a natural part of life…and it can be a positive. 

It’s all in how you think about it. Then again, that’s usually the case with most situations. Like I always say, how you think moment to moment matters. This is no different.

I think the hardest part about dealing with uncertainty is the attachment we give to any specific outcome. When an event or situation has a genuine significance to us, it’s almost a knee jerk reaction to get comfortable with one way things could turn out.

While many attempt to control or avoid it, let’s talk about some ways we can embrace uncertainty and learn to tolerate it.

Cut off the control

When things don’t go our way, or have the potential not to, what’s the first thing anxiety holds onto? Control.

Through uncertainty, we learn that control is tricky. While we cannot control the situation or others – how they react or feel to certain situations – we can control ourselves.

Take control of your language and the words, thoughts you use. Negative talk is not going to help you grow through an uncomfortable situation. Thinking thoughts like, “I’m just going to fail,” “This is killing me,” or “Worst day ever,” are just fueling your negative automatic thought spiral. Instead, get in the driver’s seat of your own mind. Control the questions you ask yourself:

“Why is this happening?” 

“How can this be a good thing?”

“What can I do – or think – to help my situation?”

 

This is known as cognitive restructuring – a very powerful way to get more comfortable with uncertainty. When we no longer blindly accept the automatic negative thoughts that have come so easily in the past, we are developing the skills to battle them.

Another example would be if the thought, “I can’t handle this uncertainty” goes through your mind, challenge it with “Uncertainty is less than ideal, but I accept it and I can handle whatever comes my way.”

Your inner monologue is really the only thing you can truly control in an event of uncertainty.

See the future as open, not empty 

When the unknowns in life are looming like a dark cloud, it can be so easy for our minds to go straight to the negative. Whether you are just graduating college and starting out in the “real” world, experiencing a breakup, or any other form of change you don’t have a handle on, do not allow yourself to see the future as a wasteland.

Interpret the future as open, not empty. While we may think worse case scenario, there are endless possibilities waiting in the unknown, and that is kind of exciting. From one door closing, or an event ending a chapter of your life, something bigger might be just around the corner – it’s all how you perceive it.

Get some extra support

Dealing with uncertainty is tough and while our normal support system can be comforting – sometimes you need a little extra help.

My own therapist has some great tools and mantras for me when uncertainty crowds my thoughts. She suggested repeating the Serenity Prayer to myself in times of high anxiety during change, or uncertainty. While I am not religious, when taken in an empowering way, this prayer can be helpful (this is a section of the prayer, not the entire thing):

“Grant me the serenity, to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.”

You can even write it down. Create a list of what you believe is in your control and take action with those activities, if you need to do something to ease your anxiety. Also, make a list of what you cannot control, and visualize yourself handing it off to whatever you deem a higher power – or just releasing it. It doesn’t have to be handing off. For me, I visualize writing the list and then just actively letting it go. Allowing it to float away, into the sky. It’s calming and empowering to let go. 

That extra support doesn’t always have to be a therapist though. While I lean on my therapist in trying times, I also have researched and found other, smaller ways to ease my anxiety. One of those is Simple Habit. A guided meditation app with exercises tailored for any kind of situation, I have a specific session I always find myself going back to when I’m high anxiety. It’s called Dealing With Failure and one of the mantras that they have you repeat goes like this:

“I do not have to be perfect and I learn from situations that have outcomes other than what I anticipated.” 

Whenever I find myself anxious from an outcome I didn’t envision, I repeat this to myself over and over again, until the reality of the statement overpowers my irrational thoughts. We can learn from uncertainty and change, if we chose to.

 

Uncertainty is inevitable. No matter how hard we may try, controlling it doesn’t work – and can even make our anxiety even worse. Change or “not knowing” isn’t necessarily a bad thing, or something to wish away. It’s merely calling on us to practice acceptance, learn healthy control, and let go of created expectations.

 

 

Do you struggle with uncertainty? Share your story in the comments below! 

 

3 Tips on Coping With Money Anxiety

Today, I had a triggering conversation about money. In some shape or form, we’ve all been there. Money and financial struggles is a tender topic to talk about, but it’s one that can easily affect our mental health.

Let me just start this off by saying that I have a stable job that allows me to live in a studio all my own, and have my emotional support animal – I realize how fortunate I am. There are plenty of people suffering devastating financial struggles all over the world.

Earlier today, I spoke with my father about how I don’t have enough right now to pay for a certain bill, and he got upset with me. Thinking like the rational lawyer that he is, he was completely right. I did need to pay it now, but I just didn’t have the money available. It turned into a projection from his bad day, but in the end I was left feeling like a failure. I linked my own self worth with how much was in my bank account.

Adulting is really hard – sometimes, we just don’t get it right the first, second, or even fifteenth try and that’s okay. Whether you’re rollin’ in it or stressing over getting gas each week, your self worth doesn’t have a price tag attached to it. You are always good enough – regardless of how much you make financially. 

I am not perfect by any means, but here are some tips I’ve learned that can help ease money anxiety:

Banish the shame 

How you’ve handled money in the past, or even currently, can lead to a mountain of shame. Whether it’s a lack of money, incorrect budgeting, or simply being unaware of the right practices (I’m still this person, believe me), stop with the shame and realize you are doing the best you can with what you have.

There’s no shame in wanting to be better with money, so don’t feel awkward if you have to bring up the subject with a therapist, partner, friend, or even a family member.

Cut out the comparison 

This is a biggie. In my past relationship, this is all I did. My ex did pretty well for himself – much better than I did – and I gave myself some anxiety about that. It’s usually an awkward subject when a partner makes more money than you do, but it doesn’t have to be. Eventually, I realized that I should be proud of him for working hard and doing well financially. While there were moments I felt guilt or embarrassment, I did not need to link my self worth to how much I made compared to him.

Our social media is filled with pictures of people’s trips, cars, and other expensive things. No matter what your friend posts, comparing yourself and your own finances to others will only trigger you.

Here are some things to remember next time you feel the urge to compare money-wise:

  • You don’t know what’s in their bank account. While a friend may seem to enjoy plenty of nice things, it could be supplied by credit cards and debt. 

 

  • Usually, you don’t see the hard work and sacrifice that goes along with financial success – just the spending. 

 

  • Your friends’ journeys are not yours – your experiences are unique. 

 

  • Like I previously stated in my post on comparison, people tend to post only the best version of themselves on social media, so our perception is skewed. 

 

  • The only person you can change is yourself. Instead of ruminating over the success of others, focus on what you can do to better control your thoughts or make your situation more manageable. 

 

Educate yourself 

If you find yourself getting high anxiety over your money problems, take control by learning more about it. By turning your unknowns into knowns, you can silence some of the voices telling you you’re not good enough, or not prepared enough, or doing enough with your situation.

Whether that looks like talking to a financial advisor, signing up for a local course in financial management and budgeting, or asking someone for advice who understands your specific situation, you can take matters into your own hands. Once you begin to learn, money stops being a trigger and morphs into something you’re able to understand and control.

No amount of money puts a price on your self worth. If you’re struggling with money or financial problems, learning how to calm those fears and anxiety is a matter of education, understanding, and action – rather than reaction. Rich or poor, you are always good enough. 

 

Do you have anxiety about finances? What tools do you use to cope?