How to tolerate uncertainty and change
When we are anxious, we tend to overestimate the danger, and the odds, of bad things happening. We also tend to underestimate our ability to cope. Even if the odds are in our favour and there is only a small chance that something bad will happen, that small chance is enough to upset us. We buy into our anxious thinking and falsely believe that worrying will somehow reduce the uncertainty. Worrying doesn’t affect the future outcome, we cannot prevent all bad things from happening and life remains uncertain. By worrying about what might happen, we spend precious moments of our lives worrying needlessly.
We can deal with uncertainty in two main ways:
1) We can challenge our need for certainty by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of needing to be certain and how it affects us. We can explore other areas of our lives where we do tolerate uncertainty, or look at how other people deal with uncertainty. It is also a good idea to deliberately do things that we are uncertain about to help us get used to uncertainty. Make an effort to try anything new such as taking a different route home or trying a new product.
2) Learn to tolerate uncertainty. Use the acronym APPLE
Acknowledge – notice and acknowledge the uncertainty as it comes to mind.
Pause – don’t react as you normally do. Don’t react at all. Just pause and breathe.
Pull Back – tell yourself this is just the worry talking in this apparent need for certainty is not helpful and not necessary.
Let Go – let go of thought or feeling about needing certainty. Tell yourself it is only a thought or feeling. Don’t believe everything you think! Thoughts are not statements of fact. They will pass. You do not have to respond to them. You might imagine them floating away in a bubble or cloud.
Explore – you can explore the present moment, because right now in this moment, you are okay. Notice your breathing and the sensations of breathing. Notice the ground beneath you, look around you and notice what you see, hear, can touch and smell. Shift your focus of attention to something else-on what you need to do, on what you are doing before you notice the worrying thought, or do something else with your full attention.
Uncertainty is an inherent part of life. Learning to deal with the unknown will increase your resilience, increase your confidence and greatly improve your quality of life.
Photo by nicubunu.photo