Remember those times when you wasted excessive amounts of time and energy stressing over something that ended up going much smoother than you expected?
Dealing with life’s uncertainties can be emotionally rattling if we don’t know how to, not only accept, but also embrace these inevitable unknowns.
Many of us have such a need for control that when it evades us, we completely stress out. And if our only source of control is simply avoiding the situation altogether, well, we run the opposite direction entirely.
But we miss out on so much when we let the stress of uncertainty control us. We forfeit the certainty that we actually do have, the presence and peace of mind to embrace the present without worry for the future, the time and energy to invest towards productively pursuing clarity.
The unknown is inevitable so avoiding it is futile and stagnating. In fact, the only way to really win at life, to achieve goals and to make a difference is to run right towards that scary cloud of uncertainty. Because on the other side is peace, growth, and understanding.
We must find a way to put one foot in front of the other, even when approaching a thick and daunting fog. With each single step, the fog lifts just enough to know where to place your next step without losing footing. The stress of uncertainty comes from trying to skip these single steps. When you are trying to focus on 10 steps ahead, you can no longer direct your energy towards what is one step ahead.
The stress of uncertainty comes from trying to skip these single steps. When you are trying to focus 10 steps ahead, you also lose sight of what is one step ahead.
Dealing with uncertainty | The quick guide to navigating life’s unknowns with peace and poise
Focus on what you do know
We tend to focus so much on the uncertainty that we give that anxiety the power to overcome and control our perception. We completely overshadow our actual spectrum of knowledge and sphere of influence.
Failing to acknowledge what we do know completely extinguishes any control that we may have had. Once you reclaim what you do know, you can focus your energy accordingly.
We give more power to the mere possibility of negative outcomes rather than the potential for positive ones. After drumming up this big scary outcome, we find that the only thing we were ever frightened of was our own imagination. Anticipation always seems to be worse than the actual thing being anticipated.
That’s not to say that every outcome is going to be rainbows and unicorns, but we must distinguish logical analysis from the inventive kind. When you are coming up with a list of what if’s, take a breath and shift your focus to what is.
It is not reality that is giving you discomfort but your overanalyzed delusions. Actively assess the rationality. Stop coming up with hypotheses or assumptions based on fiction. Realize that your assumptions are not real.
Control what you can
If you focus your energy towards what you can control, the better the chances of everything else falling into place accordingly. Investing energy into the details that you can actually influence is more worthwhile than grasping at air. Funneling your fuel into uncertainty will only lead you to burnout and despair. Pursuing the uncontrollable will only leave all aspects, even the things you could have controlled, unaffected.
You must reconcile that no amount of action upon something out of your control will actually yield promising results. So you must do something more worthwhile: pump that energy into the things that can be influenced by your effort.
Being present now is the best way to prepare for later.
Worry only lives in the future, only making it clearer that the future is simply not for us to control. The present, though, is completely within reach.
In order to keep an optimistic disposition, be aware of the source of your emotions. Many of our negative emotions arise from an area of uncertainty. When you get impatient, confused, mad or sad, try to assess what is causing that emotion and then what part of the equation is within your control.
When you get impatient, confused, mad or sad, try to assess what is causing that emotion and then what part of the equation is within your control. Even if the source of agitation is not controllable, your emotions always are.
It is natural to desire control but when nothing gives, assume it is just not your responsibility to influence this situation.
There will even be times where the topic of uncertainty will directly affect you, and it is still out of your control. It is only natural to care if you are an affected party. But if investing your energy still changes nothing, accept that and redirect your focus. At this point, your energy is better spent invested towards action that would prove to be effective.
That being said, there will be times where you still have no clear answer. You feel emptyhanded and helpless. If you can’t find that productive movement, it is okay to be still. In that stillness, the fog will life, your mind will clear and you will find your trajectory.
Lauren is based in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to writing here on Pursuit of Daydreams, Lauren’s daydreams consist of all forms of design: Graphic, Fashion, Web, Interior, Art. On any given day, she can be found preoccupied with at least one of the above. She is happiest with a bowl of ice cream in hand.
Also published on Medium.