Dealing with the Unknown: 3 Strategies for Handling Uncertainty

Uncertainty and dealing with the unknown is something we all must learn to cope with. John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” If that’s the case, are there ways to live with the unknown with a greater sense of mastery and ease? I believe so!

Living with uncertainty certainly isn’t comfortable and can show up on both a macro and a micro level. On the macro level, you may have been hit by one of life’s curve balls like a relationship meltdown, a workplace restructuring, a health scare or some other significant shift in the landscape of your life. On the micro level, Mercury goes retrograde again and your computer crashes right before you need to pull your major presentation out of it. You are working on something that you thought was your heart’s desire, but you …. run into all sorts of roadblocks when you try to execute it. One of your children hits puberty and becomes unrecognizable as that sweet little angel you once had.

The logical, rational mind part of our being really dislikes not knowing the answers. When the rules of the game you’ve been playing and winning at suddenly change, the ego feels very exposed and helpless. We may end up making rash decisions that do not serve our highest and best long-term interests. We tend to lash out at others in blame or judgment. We can get so focused on the problem we can develop tunnel vision, missing an innovative solution or possibility that is right at our fingertips.

Here are some powerful strategies you can use for those times when you are dealing with uncertainty.

1. Breathe

Seriously, take a few deep breaths. Uncertainty creates fear and anxiety, which can kick you into the “flight or fight” response. It’s hard to think clearly, let alone make a meaningful choice, when your nervous system is being bathed in a series of chemicals intended to prepare your body for battle or retreat. Deep, belly breathing for even a minute can work miracles to switch off the alert signals from your reptilian brain and allow yourself to get grounded.

2. Dig Deep for the Gold

Once you have calmed down the frenetic brain chatter that often accompanies the unknown, make the choice to ask your own internal wise self for guidance. Remind yourself that you are an eternal soul, having a physical experience here in Earth school. You have a soul curriculum you designed that will uniquely and perfectly support you in growing, evolving and expressing your greatest potential. Rather than grabbing on to quick-fix solutions or tactics that you see around you, choose to dig deep for the gold, wisdom and strength that lies untapped within you. Journalling, working with a coach, and asking great questions like “What can I learn from this situation?” will help you do the spadework needed to connect to the answers for you.

3. Practice Patience

The Universe unfolds in mysterious ways. Often we short-circuit our process by becoming impatient when we’re not getting the results we think we should be getting. There is a season or a cycle to things and sometimes change takes place on an invisible dimension. Trees go dormant in winter and it looks like there is nothing happening. Yet below the ground, the roots are gathering nourishment that will bring forth new growth in the spring. Imagine a tree branch in a mid-February cold spell saying, “Hey, where’s my fancy green leaves? If you roots don’t deliver soon, I’m going to detach myself and find some other tree that will give me what I want.”

Often living in the unknown is an opportunity for us to practice patience. Rather than making a reactive choice, we can choose to continue to hold a vision, while allowing some leeway for the Universe to support us in delivering it in a time frame and in a way that may not line up exactly with what our ego may have originally foreseen.

© 2010 Carolyn B. Ellis

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4 thoughts on “Dealing with the Unknown: 3 Strategies for Handling Uncertainty

  1. These are great suggestions. We always forget to take a moment and breathe during the divorce. We are always on the go, thinking, thinking, doing, never stopping. It’s important to manage the stress that comes with the uncertainty.

  2. I LOVE this:
    Remind yourself that you are an eternal soul, having a physical experience here in Earth school. You have a soul curriculum you designed that will uniquely and perfectly support you in growing, evolving and expressing your greatest potential.

    I need to remember this. A few times since my divorce, I have thought about how it’s almost like the universe put me through this just because I was too scared and insecure and felt so inadequate. Through my divorce I’ve learned so much, I am strong and more confident, and I’ve grown in ways I never could have predicted. But I lose sight of that sometimes and I only feel grief. I may use that line in my blog (I’ll attrite it, of course).



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  4. Awesome suggestions Carolyn. Taking deep breathes and practicing patience especially when you have young adolescents around can be pretty helpful.