We all experience uncertainty. It is part of the change process. Whether we are changing job, moving home, building relationships, uncertainty usually shows up at some point. When we accept it and become comfortable with it, we develop greater tolerance to manage uncertainty and keep moving towards your goals. Until we learn to tolerate it, uncertainty makes us anxious. We often find not knowing how things are going to turn out anxiety and stress inducing. When we are anxious we tend to over estimate the danger and the odds of having difficulties and we underestimate our ability to cope when challenging situations arise.
For the most part we rise to the challenge, we surprise ourselves because we go into “action mode” – and here is the thing; “action trumps fear” every time. We seem to be hard wired as humans to rise out of difficulty. Yet, sometimes we get a bit stuck. Know this, fear only gets a hold of us when we let it. Fear stands for False Expectations Appearing Real. When we experience fear, we perhaps expect a negative outcome, this becomes a limiting belief, a generalisation, it is not true. But the mind has a way of giving energy and power to our fears. Which depletes us of our resilience, our self belief and confidence.
Here are some of the things that can happen to you when you face adversity. The reason I am sharing them with you is that when you recognise your experience, you can then begin to rise out of the difficulty and have a greater tolerance of uncertainty. You gain the ability to bounce back quickly from disappointments and difficulties.
So here are are some of the mind tricks we have to master and as with any skill, with a little practice it becomes easier to build a supportive mindset that can tolerate uncertainty and help you create the results you want in your life.
- Magnification – this is when you go over the same thoughts again and again. They impact on your resilience, increase your stress and can drag you down. In these moments, see the bigger picture, get back to what is important in your life. Remind yourself of the things you are grateful for. A gratitude attitude is one of the single most mentally supportive things you can do. Focus on what really matters to you and you will find you stop magnifying things. You will find many books on the subject, including one called Full Catastrophe Thinking – if this is you there is a way out.
- All or nothing thinking, aka black or white thinking. This is a mind trap. When we think in terms only two options in a situation, we get stuck. My invitation to you is to think, “what else could work here”, what else can I do differently to improve things? You need three or more options to get out of a limited thinking. So flex your mind and find a third option. Then you can move forward feeling more empowered by the choices you have created.
- Mental Filtering – this is picking out a single negative detail and dwelling upon it to the exclusion of other details. This deletes all the other facts of the situation and distorts your ability to think and respond with clarity. So notice if you are doing this, dwelling on one fact, one person, a comment, one point or issue. In this situation, get out of your head. Go for a walk, meditate, do what ever it is that helps you get out of your head and into your body. Imagine putting the problem at a distance and you will begin to gain perspective. A key question to ask yourself is “Is this train of thought useful to me, does it help or hinder me?” If it hinders, let it go.
- Emotional reasoning is when you are overcome by the emotions and your thinking doesn’t reflect how things really are. When we are hijacked by our emotions like this it can be a challenge to bring yourself back to balance. The first thing you should do is ask yourself, “What purpose does this line of reason support?” If it is a negative purpose, ask yourself, “what do I want instead?” Give yourself time to soothe and settle your system, breathe and reconnect with what the real reason is not the emotional response. Reflect and give yourself time to connect with all of who you are.
- Labelling yourself, putting yourself in categories of blame and accusation. This is where you judge yourself negatively in response to events, undermining your thoughts and reasoning. We all do this at some point. The trick is catching yourself in the act and doing something about it. We wouldn’t let our friends speak to us the way we speak to ourselves sometimes. So reconnect with who you are as a human being, your kindnesses, ask your friends and family what they see in you and create some positive powerful labels for a change.
Discover your thought habits and find a tool that works for you to bring your persecutive and resilience back. Learn that uncertainty is uncertainty, often there is nothing you can do but let go of fears, doubts, catastrophe thinking and choose to hope, to believe and work towards your goals, wishes, hopes and dreams. If you get stuck, reach out, ask for support and get some help to get back to your best self. Because you matter, you are important and this is your life.