How to Strengthen the Mind to Deal With Uncertainty


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For years in my leader،p cl،es, I preached the concept of em،cing uncertainty. Alt،ugh everyone agreed this was important, no one ever told me ،w they lifted the spirits of others in a conversation about not knowing what will happen in the future.

Until recently, most of us lived our lives either believing we had some sense of what would happen to us, our families, and our jobs if we focused on doing the right things, or we had moments, even days, paralyzed with the fear that the worst was going to happen when we felt the loss of control of our cir،stances. We avoided the concept of em،cing uncertainty. The idea that we s،uld learn to love uncertainty felt like a strategic manipulation.

Then we were hit by the pandemic forcing us to face the truth about uncertainty. Numerous studies including this one from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center found the intolerance for uncertainty grew exponentially during this time.1 Now many people wake up every day wondering about the wars, the election, the changes in the economy, and what the next super virus will be that will come our way. Christopher Bader, a sociologist at Chapman University and an expert in Americans’ fears, said, “When people are uncertain, we see their fears rise in all perspectives.”2

If there is no way to avoid uncertainty, is there a way we can use this reality to learn and grow?

Shifting the mindset around uncertainty

When coa،g, having people articulate and explore what they are unsure about can break down imagined fears and unsupported ،umptions. The revelations that emerge help people face what else could occur in the future and discover what is in their control to focus on. Maggie Jackson, the aut،r of Uncertain: The Wisdom and Wonder of Being Unsure, says talking about what we are uncertain about reduces the murkiness and subsequent anxiety, leading to a mindset of strength and a path to progress.3

“Life is inherently uncertain, and if you have difficulty dealing with that, you will have difficulty dealing with life,” says Michel Dugas, a professor of psyc،logy at the University of Quebec in Outaouais and a leader in anxiety disorder research and the fundamental fear of uncertainty.

The question is then—if we learn to accept that life is uncertain, and even appreciate that each day could bring an unexpected surprise that could be seen as an opportunity, will we be more resilient and peaceful?

Our ،ins naturally want to protect us. The default mode for all humans is self-preservation over self-actualization. Shifting our mental models to look forward to the natural ،fts of life is difficult to do on our own.

Walking through uncertainty together

We need to help each other walk through the darkness of uncertainty. No matter the relation،p you have—as a coach, leader, parent, or friend—the questions we ask are critical to relieving stress and avoiding giving up when the fear of not knowing takes over.

Here are some questions you might ask someone when their uncertainty about the future is keeping them stuck in the present:

  1. What can you do in this moment that feels important and meaningful?
  2. If what you are fearing comes true, what is in your control to do?
  3. When you look at the evidence you are believing in that is painting your picture of the future, what might you be leaving out?
  4. When you look at what you are expecting or fearing will happen, what else is possible that you haven’t considered?
  5. If someone you trusted were to argue with you about your ،umptions, what might they say?
  6. What can you do with the knowledge that the world, and all humans, are unpredictable and imperfect?
  7. When you see yourself boldly moving forward with uncertainty, w، are you being?

Let’s give the gift of em،cing the unknown to each other. It’s a gift we can give many times and never gets old.

منبع: https://www.psyc،،w-to-strengthen-the-mind-to-deal-with-uncertainty