How to Accept and Tolerate Uncertainty

growth mindset

When we awake each morning, we do not know whether we are going to see out the day. There are those that, often, do not wake up at all – their bodies have succumbed to eternal sleep. We plan for tomorrow, next week, next year or the next five years like these epochs are a certainty yet, if we stop for a moment, our small, withered, inner voice tells us that the only certainty is uncertainty.

When a Life Event happens to us, we raise our heads up above the parapet of certainty, logic and planning and we feel the tug of uncertainty in our hearts.

It seems so obvious, doesn’t it? That fate/chance/God/the universe could wipe us from the face of this planet, and existence, in the blink of an eye – like the motes of dust, spinning on a ball of molten metal in a galaxy with 100 billion stars, we are. But we are wired to still plan and live like we’ll be here forever.

When a Life Event happens to us, we raise our heads up above the parapet of certainty, logic and planning and we feel the tug of uncertainty in our hearts. And a deluge of questions springs forth as our inner child tries to make sense of the skewed, suddenly probabilistic, future that we are confronted with. You fail an exam: will I have a career? Your relationship ends: will I find someone new? How do I deal with loneliness? Your career takes an adverse turn: will I ever reach those career heights again? Will my bills be paid?

This awareness of an uncertain, illogical, future – where our plans are not set in stone – can lead to stress and anxiety. We’d rather know, than not know – this is how we are wired. We’d rather know that there is a lion in the bushes just outside of camp than not.

Over the years I have become acutely aware of how uncertain life can be. I’ve taken decisions where I lean into uncertainty and try to embrace it as much as possible. I am not fearless, as rushing headlong into the unknown is coupled with a shitload of fear and introspection. But, with blissful ignorance and a healthy dose of “fuck it”, I try to grit my teeth and embrace the unplannable.

Trust yourself, trust the process, your support network and  whatever/whoever your God is and lean into uncertain situations.

In a way, this is what this trip to Bali represents to us and, yet, we are leaning into our experiences. Riding a scooter in the midst of the nightmarish Kuta traffic is peak uncertainty but it takes, and builds, self-confidence and trust. Taking a small boat to an unknown location off the coast and jumping into the sea, in the hope that the boat is still there when you’ve surfaced is another small example.

Trust yourself, trust the process, your support network and whatever/whoever your God is and lean into uncertain situations.

There is a concept that I use in my life that I term drift that I’ll try to explain it here. In mathematics, stochastic drift determines the change of the average value of a random process which means that an insurance company, for example, is able to calculate the rate of mortality over a given time period (mortality being a random process and the average value of mortality rates is what is being calculated).

Go into situations knowing that, not only will you overcome, but that you’ll grow.

The point is that my concept of drift is related to the mathematical process above but is simplistic: the more you expose yourself to- and deal with – micro-bouts of uncertainty, the better you will be over time at accepting and dealing with uncertain events. Yes, this is not a new theory – it’s something I use for myself – but the point here is that the drift of how you deal with uncertainty in your life will expand: you will be able to deal with an ever-expanding clutch of uncertain events.

Further, one’s mindset is key to dealing with whatever may be around the corner. a growth mindset is stronger and more keenly attuned to your overcoming and succeeding at dealing with uncertainty than a fixed mindset. Go into situations knowing that, not only will you overcome, but that you’ll grow.

In summary, we can never truly know the outcome of any event yet there are those that affect us at our deepest levels and cause us to view the external world, and ensuing events with uncertainty. This causes stress and anxiety. Lean in, trust yourself and trust the process and you will be able to, eventually, not only tolerate uncertainty but welcome it.

Comment and let us know what you think!

 

 

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