Embracing uncertainty can help you use fear, doubt, and failure to improve your life.
Fear, control, doubt, failure, lack of safety, worry, unpredictability, confusion, uneasiness, concern, anxiety, suspense, haziness, losing it, freaking out, and ambiguity.
These are just a few words my friends and colleagues gave me when I asked them what uncertainty meant to them.
I say a few because not all saw uncertainty as needing taming.
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Not all of them felt they needed to adopt a proactive approach.
In fact, more of them said they were happy to be reactive.
How to Embrace Uncertainty
To throw caution to the wind and see what happened, embrace uncertainty, and feel its wonder.
As a self-confessed control freak, seeing the other side of the coin was very reassuring – if not slightly scary.
Want to know if you, too, can embrace uncertainty?
Here are five ways to do it.
1. Your permission slip to relax
So I set about trying to find ways to embrace uncertainty with the same relaxed excitement that the ‘chilled-out’ amongst us seemed to do.
And there lay my first clue.
Embracing uncertainty requires a certain amount of “ça fait rien,” a no-worries attitude, a kind of French pace of life.
Uncertainty means leaving things to chance.
It means giving yourself permission not to worry about it, not to stress about it, and letting nature take its course.
It’s the ability to cope without the complete picture.
There aren’t many things in life these days that don’t need planning and controlling within an inch of their lives.
There’s not much we don’t fret over and need an immediate and cast iron answer to.
So, let uncertainty be your opportunity to chillax a little and rebel against organization!
Embrace the laid-back you!
You will also enjoy our article on fear and doubt.
2. Failure as feedback
One friend said she liked to ‘play it safe.’
That she purposely planned her life to avoid as much uncertainty as possible.
I have to say I used to be a little like this myself.
Over the past couple of years, however, especially after reading Dr. Carol S Dweck’s book “Mindset,” I have grown my ability to embrace uncertainty and court the idea of failure more often.
Uncertainty (not focusing on the destination but on the journey) is where most of life’s lessons happen.
That journey, that risk, will result in dead ends and wasted trips.
But it’s in the getting-it-wrong that we can glean precious feedback.
Feedback = Learning.
Uncertainty, therefore, creates determination.
An achiever – in place of a defeatist – mindset and the ability to step into the unknown without a gold dangling carrot in sight.
It teaches grit, it teaches us to set goals, assess goals, re-set them, and unfold ourselves into our uncertain futures.
Embrace uncertainty through all failed journeys.
3. Fun and freedom
If we knew all the answers, and in doing so, we could avoid uncertainty and head straight for the end result, how bland and uneventful life would be!
Nobody wants to wait for anything anymore.
Everyone wants it all, and everyone wants it now!
Even our kids are growing up too fast.
The element of fun and freedom is disappearing in this fast-paced, competitive world.
So much focuses on where we’re all going, what we’re all earning, where we’re all living, what we’re all driving.
We are results-driven from kindergarten!
One of my fellow coaches is location-independent, allowing her to run her business from anywhere in the world so she doesn’t have to stay in one spot.
There couldn’t be more uncertainty in her life if she tried.
She picks a spot where there is sun and waves, and off she goes.
She’s bucked the trend to conform, the need to know.
She has no interest in keeping up with the Joneses, to tick the boxes society has laid out for her.
Instead, she chose fun and freedom.
Choose to embrace uncertainty
I never know where she is going to be when we Skype.
She surfs, the adrenaline she gets from the wave, from not knowing how long she can ride it; where it will take her or where it will spit her out is like straddling uncertainty and riding it like a wild stallion.
Another of my close friends runs sustainable travel programs for students, volunteers, and families.
These trips are off the beaten track.
Although a lot of planning is involved, there is also a lot of uncertainty when you travel like this.
You are not working with modern systems of travel and economy.
It’s more primitive than what we are used to depending on.
This means you have to be adaptable to weather, terrain, and cultural changes.
They have to have faith in what they don’t know.
But this kind of risk discovers new places, develops the individual, and provides valuable experience whilst preserving the culture, communities, and environment around you.
Embrace the extreme fun, unbridled freedom, and personal growth that uncertainty can bring when you don’t do things the “normal” way.
4. Practice makes perfect
Uncertainty allows us to get inside our own heads and practice self-help in the control departments of our brains.
When we feel out of control, the old damaging self-talk pipes up.
These voices are pretty destructive but are manageable with practice.
They come from fear that is often distorted.
It’s perceived fear, and when we don’t know an outcome, our emotional brain conjures one up for us.
It fills in the gaps and joins the dots – just not realistically or rationally.
Our emotional brain is much more powerful than the logical part of our psychological brain.
It takes practice to manage it; it’s like a naughty gremlin on the loose!
When dealing with an uncertain situation, look at what you DO have control over and what you don’t have control over.
John Kim, AKA The Angry Therapist, has an exercise where he asks you to draw a line vertically down a piece of paper and write Control on one side and No Control on the other.
He then asks you to fill in both columns with the things you do and don’t have control over.
Finally, you examine where most of your energy and stress is focused.
It’s usually with the things you have no control over, which are uncertain in our own worlds.
To practice dealing with uncertainty, we must focus on what we do have control over rather than trying to sort the whole world out.
We have to start with our own sh*t first!
Embrace the chance to practice self-help.
5. Faith and love is a test of embracing uncertainty
The saying goes, “the only thing that’s certain is uncertainty.”
We cannot be sure of anything as life is ever-changing, growing, and evolving.
You don’t even know what will happen by the time you get to the end of this article – nothing, apart from the right here and now, is certain.
Therefore, life requires a degree of faith.
Whether you believe in something bigger, higher, or mightier than you, whether you believe in a talisman of sorts or even in nothing (which actually is a pretty big thing to believe in).
You practice spirituality at a very high level to have faith in uncertainty.
We do it every minute of every day – and don’t even credit ourselves for it.
“He loves me, he loves me not.”
Oh, how flipping uncertain love is!
But the uncertainty creates butterflies in the stomach, shortness of breath, longing, and lusting.
“Will she, won’t she.”
That first touch, that first kiss, it’s heart-stopping because of uncertainty.
I challenge anyone to swap this risk for clarity in those tingly moments!
Sure, uncertainty in love can lead to emotional discomfort – but only if you analyze it and require immediate results.
Let love naturally grow and take you where it wants to go.
Find joy in embracing uncertainty
Why not embrace uncertainty for as long as possible, immerse yourself in the rush that comes from it, and don’t be quick to decide where it will all end up.
Embrace the moment and the deliciousness of life.
How are some ways embracing uncertainty has enriched your life?
Let us know in the comment section below.
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