How to Handle Uncertainty in Life
The world is getting increasingly unpredictable. Freak extreme weather phenomena, deadly health pandemics, a financial system that’s due to collapse at any moment. The list is endless.
Experts and facts can’t be trusted. Information is manipulated, news is fake, and we are left with half truths to figure out what’s going on.
Our personal lives are shaky too. Family values are rapidly eroding, spiritual beliefs are at an all-time low, and relationships are no longer what they used to be.
Life is extremely fragile.
Spinning Out of Control
Things that we took for granted – like a boy growing up to be a man and a girl being a woman – are no longer so. Sexuality, careers, humanity – everything is uncertain now.
It seems that anything can happen these days. And like it or not, the pace of change is accelerating.
Externally, we are constantly faced with new risks from terrorism and global warming, to deadly diseases and a constant stream of unknown dangers.
From within, the moral compass that grounds us is at risk. Traditions are casually abandoned, culture forgotten, and values traded for short term gains.
Living with such instability has caused anxiety problems and mental health issues to skyrocket.
People need a clear plan to handle all this uncertainty. They need effective strategies to manage unpredictable situations and be at ease with not being fully in control.
Going into Isolation
One extreme approach is to deal with uncertainty by creating a sterile life that’s insulated from anything that may threaten the fully planned environment.
By effectively cutting off the outside world, any potential risk is severed to create optimal circumstances for systematic control. Nothing is left to chance.
This would be the protectionist way to treat uncertainty. It’s weird and abnormal, but it is one way of existing. Most people wouldn’t consider it living life though.
It does minimize lots of unknown elements and has a structure to preserve its core values, but it comes at a great cost.
The restrictions, containment and rigidity do not allow for individuality, creativity, curiosity and growth to flourish.
A more measured approach for managing uncertainty in life is to live in the normal world and have strict rules and procedures for everything.
This prevention based mindset has set schedules, regular routines, fixed friends, and a perfectionist life that’s formulated to produce expected outcomes.
The strategy to handle the risk of unknowns is to have total control. To obsess about trivial matters and stay away from, or shut out unpredictable events.
In response to feeling powerless in a world where most things can’t be controlled, far too many people are developing mental health issues, ranging from perfectionism and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD), to anxiety and depression.
Awareness & Acceptance
A healthy way to deal with uncertainty is to acknowledge it, do what’s possible to manage it and accept what’s unpredictable.
Have a realistic plan to minimize unnecessary risks, be smart when taking calculated risks and have backup plans to protect from unforeseen events.
Adopt a growth mindset to treat uncertainty in a positive way. Live life to the fullest in a mindful and wise way, knowing you have done what you can.
Acceptance is essential. Accept uncertainty as a key part of life. Accept whatever happens. Accept there are things beyond your control. Accept the world around you. Accept you’ve done your best.
To be happy, it is important to be able to handle uncertainty.
You need to have a good plan to minimize risks, accept worthwhile risks and have a margin of safety that serves as protection from the risk taking.
If you know that “what can go wrong will go wrong”, then plan for it.
Take risks in order to go for the gain, but have contingency plans. Plan for the uncertainty. Embrace it.
An Example …
Time management is a useful example. A lot of people are consistently late. Most of them arrive stressed. Some are even upset because of the traffic, or whatever.
By not planning for it in a realistic way, and providing for things that may go wrong, uncertainties can cause problems.
The answer is to plan properly and make good decisions. Leaving early for a meeting is good. Leaving early to get there on time is better. Leaving early to get there early is best.
People who are always late don’t know how long it takes to get there, don’t have realistic expectations of how long it takes, don’t account for traffic jams / find parking and so on. Or, they simply don’t care.
There are so many parallels with life. If you’re unprepared and unrealistic, you will have an unpleasant and stressful journey, and blame others (ie other motorists) – or fate – for your mistakes.
The solution — Acknowledge, Manage and Accept Uncertainty.
Lots of uncertainties can be managed to create predictable results. Others just need to be accepted for what they are.
The unknowns of life have to be acknowledged and rationalized. Otherwise they will control you.
Focus on being kind and have a positive, responsible attitude. That should minimize nasty shocks and pave the way for pleasant surprises.