In a world full of uncertainty and change staying ahead can be a rough endeavor. More so if you are someone that is considered to have it all together. So what can you do? How can you succeed in coping with change and uncertainty so that you are no longer surprised by unpredictable changes?
Find useful mindset shifts and techniques to build your confidence in coping with change and uncertainty.
The Blessing of Uncertainty and Change
The very first step to coping with change and uncertainty is to change your mindset about the very topic. As of now, you are seeing change and uncertainty as a threat to your career, relationships, and maybe even health which causes you to miss out on the benefits these times can bring. But contrary to what you are feeling and thinking right now, uncertain times open the door wide for changes. Changes you didn’t even know were possible.
Entering a time of uncertainty means that you are doing something you have never done before, which means you are growing. And no matter how hard you try, you cannot come up with a plan for how this change plays out because you have never done anything like this. And this is can be the exciting part. Going somewhere you have never been is about seeing and experiencing things you have never experienced. For example:
- starting a business, facing uncertainty, and having success with it as you progress
- leaving a toxic relationship, thus leaving safety and security behind, which gives you feelings of uncertainty. This then brings you down a path of finding yourself and a relationship you couldn’t imagine is possible
- leaving a job and going into the uncertainty of finding a new job that could end up being your dream job with your dream pay
Now, this sounds all great and nice but here’s the catch:
Positive changes in uncertain times depend on how well you deal with the feelings of uncertainty.
And to deal with the feelings of uncertainty you need to understand it first.
The Emotion of Uncertainty
Understanding the emotion of uncertainty and how to handle it is the essential step to coping with change and uncertainty. At the very basic, uncertainty is an emotion that arises from the fact that you don’t know what is going to happen in the future. And whenever you don’t know what is going to happen you use your mind to scan the past and find patterns that could predict the future. And that is the point where fear of the future kicks in.
But the reality is that no matter how hard you try, you cannot predict the future, especially not from what you’ve experienced before.
Why Resistance makes everything worse
The feeling of uncertainty is very uncomfortable. What people usually do then is they go into resistance to this emotion by distracting themselves. This can come in the form of eating junk food, doing drugs, going out, positive thinking, and many more. What these strategies do, instead of helping you cope with change and uncertainty, they help you avoid it. But as with most things, what you resist, aka avoid, persists. So what can you do about that?
Be Present to Be Certain
As previously outlined, resistance and distraction don’t help with coping with change and uncertainty. What does help is presence.
As hard as it may be in practice, being present with the emotion of uncertainty is the key to elevating it. To outline that clearly, look at the graphic below which outlines the levels of consciousness by David R. Hawkins. In this you can see human emotions sorted into a scale. On the bottom are lower levels of consciousness and on the top are higher levels. The lower you are the less energy and information you have available. The higher you are on the scale, the more information and energy you have available.
You can see that the emotion of fear is almost at the bottom of this scale at 100 and apathy even lower at 50. Most of the time when you avid an emotion and thus distract yourself you are at a level of apathy or fear. And in that case, you have little energy and little information available for coping with change and uncertainty.
So the solution could be to simply jump to another scale like acceptance right? Maybe. But often that is not so easy.
When something is causing pain, expecting to just accept it is abusive. And for that reason presence is the better approach to coping with change and uncertainty.
Coping with Change and Uncertainty by Being Present
Being present with the emotion of uncertainty and all the other emotions that come with the change you are experiencing, is the key to thriving in this time and achieving a positive state. To do this, find a comfortable position and some undisturbed time and follow the steps below or use the meditation below.
- Close your eyes.
- Take a few deep breaths and relax your muscles with every exhale.
- Scan your body and notice any tension, tightness, or discomfort.
- Now thinking of the change and uncertainty, what emotion is arising?
- Try to locate that sensation in your body.
- It may be a tightness in your heart, a heaviness on your shoulders, a pain in your stomach, or something else.
- Now be fully present with that emotion for some time.
- Let go of any thoughts that are distracting you. Constantly bringing your focus back into the emotion.
- There is nothing else for you to do. Just be with this sensation in your body.
- You can use your breath to help sink deeper into it.
- Come out whenever you prefer and repeat this practice every day.
You may notice that the emotion intensifies while you are present with it or it may even fade a little. All that is fine. Your task is to just be present with it.
Now that you learned about the emotional aspect, what if your mind is still going crazy? Here’s help.
Coping with change and uncertainty by widening your scope of view
When uncertain times come, we tend to be threatened on a primal level which causes us to narrow our focus to “survive”. This locks our perspective in and we stay rigid. To better cope with change and uncertainty and to even seek the benefits from it, it is good to widen your scope of view so that you can see opportunities for taking action. One of the best ways to achieve this is to ask and answer questions designed to change your perspective on this uncertainty and change.
- What would my mentor/idol/parent or someone I admire advise me to think, feel and do?
- If I am 1 year from now looking back at the situation and everything worked out, how would I feel?
- What would I do if the uncertainty wasn’t there?
- If I know for certain, that this time of change and uncertainty brings something amazing, what would I do different?
- How can this be a good thing?
Practices changing perspectives with questions brings you out of a self-centeredness fear based perspective and into a state of compassion and understanding. This is essential to seeing new opportunities to then thrive during change and uncertainty.
How to Handle Fear When Coping with Change and Uncertainty
Another great way to deal with uncertainty and change is to face the thing you are afraid will happen: the worst case. Oftentimes you do your best to avoid the downfall, a loss or even the worst you can imagine. And subconsciously impacts you if not dealt with. Worst case planning is a great way to remove the fear of what can go wrong and face actual solutions to how you can do it right.
To do this process it’s best to take out a sheet of paper and follow the steps:
- What are the worst things that can happen? Write them down next to each other or leave enough space between them.
- Of the things you wrote down, can you see which once would be the absolute worst? Pick three at max.
- Now for each worst case idea continue with the steps below.
- Close your eyes for a moment and imagine that this worst case scenario plays out.
- Now feel the emotions that arise with that.
- When you are at the peak of it, ask yourself how you will be ok.
- In the situation think about how you can manage to be ok and what you can do.
- Think until you feel some sense of relief.
Now that we covered the mental and emotional level. What about the practical level? What should and shouldn’t you do when coping with uncertainty and change?
Leading Yourself and Others through change and Uncertainty
Leading through change and uncertainty has a lot to do with leading yourself through the emotional and mental ups and downs. And while we covered techniques for that already, here are some practical tips.
1. Wait it out
Sometimes when there is a lot going on, it’s good to wait it out first before making any decision. Especially if you are in the middle of uncertainty and change. Basically you don’t want to make a decision you later regret because it came out of a fear mentality or a hurricane of emotions. If you have to make a decision and can’t wait, make sure you spend time reflecting the emotions and different opportunities before deciding.
2. Act on inspiration fast
New ideas often come in the form of a sudden inspiration to do something. Sometimes even totally out of context. For example, you may get the sudden inspiration to check in with an old colleague or a former boss and you hesitate to do that. But it’s best to act on these inspirations fast whenever they arise. For some reason calling a former colleague can create a opportunity or give you an insight into solving a problem. Your subconscious mind has a way of dropping hints that can help you move forward.
3. Find moments of rest
Uncertainty and change can be exhausting. And that is ok. That is why it is important to schedule some time for rest and self-care. Because during these times new ideas and clarity come.
What If You feel Helpless and Stuck
Now everything above is limited in the way it can help you as you are looking with your perspective onto the situation. For that reason, finding coaching in these times of coping with uncertainty and change can be a great way to help you thrive and achieve what you wish to achieve. If that is something you might be interested in, make sure to book a free 30 minute coaching call with me to see whether coaching can help you.