Coping with Incertitude


Guest Post By Veronica Vidal

Our lives are a towering stack of “may perhaps” right now. Though we are dealing with a lot more change than usual, the reality is that most days start and end with uncertainty.  The only constant in life is that it will involve change, and try as you may control the future, sometimes all you can do is trust that whatever happens, you can adapt and make the best of it.

Failing to accept the uncertainties of life is what unsettles us and generates fear, anxiety, and frustration. It’s no good fooling ourselves that everything is then under control. Accepting incertitude is a challenge but it can stop us from living in a limbo state of doubt and confusion. To relieve our anxieties and disappointments we must reframe our assumptions so that we can adapt to new conditions. Uncertainty is the way we deal with change as it emerges.

David Brooks wrote recently in the New York Times:

“Don’t expect life to be predictable or fair. Don’t try to tame the situation with some feel-good lie or confident prediction. Embrace uncertainty. There is a weird clarity that comes with that embrace. There is a humility that comes with realizing you’re not the glorious plans you made for your life.”

“When the plans are upset, there’s a quieter and better you beneath them.”

Being open to the unpredictable, and exploring our options can help us silence those negative inner voices and detach ourselves from our limiting beliefs. Therefore, it is essential to develop coping skills to enhance our capacity to explore and discover new solutions as they emerge.

Incertitude can cause ‘breakdowns’ in the flow of daily life, but it can also help you find ‘breakthrough’ solutions.

Learning to cope with the uncertainties of life is a foundation for emotional and mental wellbeing. Below I share with you  6 coaching tools anyone can put in to practice right away:

  1. Learn the art of being curious – Wonder about what can possibly make you feel more at ease. Taking a deep breath, and stepping back will give you the feedback and space you will need to adopt a more positive and optimistic perspective.  Embracing curiosity means being okay with not knowing.
  2. Accept constant imperfection – Most of us have indulged in the fantasy, that someday everything will be okay. One day we’ll have the home, the relationship, the career, the status, the health, the time…  and from then on it will be smooth sailing.  This causes us to metaphorically hold our breath, waiting for that moment when we’re finally able to be happy. If we can accept, however, that things will never be perfect—that we’ll gain, and lose, and grow, and regress, and smile, and cry, and learn, and forget—we’ll be better able to embrace the present moment. We are all ever-changing works in progress, and so are the lives we lead.
  3. Prepare for different scenarios – The most difficult part of incertitude, is the inability to feel in control. However, one can plan for the possibilities. One can make a list of what one would do if “A” happens versus “B” or “C”. All we really need is a basic plan and the flexibility to embrace change, when and if necessary.
  4. Utilize stress reduction techniques – Dealing with incertitude, may result in stress in your body and mind. Even when we are not aware of it, stress affects blood pressure, blood sugar, muscle tension, cholesterol level, breathing rate, and cause sleeping disorders, digestion issues, as well as anxiety or depression. Incorporate stress reduction techniques into your days, such as yoga, breathing techniques, relaxation, and meditation, even if just five to ten minutes daily. Finding your center will help you feel better prepared to tackle whatever comes your way.
  5. Focus on what you can control – Oftentimes, we overlook the little things we can do to make life easier while obsessing about the big things we can’t do. Focus on a short-term solution, stop complaining, and start some motion now, so that you can get a hold of the situation.
  6. Practice mindfulness –When we obsess about a tomorrow we can’t control, we’re too busy fearing what hasn’t happened yet,  to fully experience what’s happening right now. Observe when your thoughts go into the future, and bring them back to the present moment. We can learn to use incertitude as a tool to adapt and emerge with strength and dignity from each circumstance. Keep me posted on your progress and share with me your concerns.

Here is an online course that can help educators address this issue in their schools and classrooms.

Click here: “Supporting Our Students Through Childhood Trauma