Highlights for Managing Uncertainty
- I suck at uncertainty (1:05)
- Have you hit the wall yet? (1:40)
- 6 simple ways to manage uncertainty (4:25)
- This is your permission slip (16:55)
We are living in some interesting times now. Once in a lifetime stuff. We are being challenged like never before, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to end anytime soon.
And so, SO many people are struggling, and I wanted to let you know that if you’re struggling, you’re not alone. I, too, have my struggles.
A lot of people are working from home, lots of kids are doing school virtually, parents are becoming teachers, people are fighting about wearing masks, virtual school, the virus, and human rights – and don’t even get me started on the political shitshow we’re witnessing … whether we want to or not.
I Suck at Uncertainty
We are in a constant state of uncertainty … which I suck at!!! 😊
I don’t like uncertainty. I don’t know anyone who loves it, but I do know that some people roll with it better than others. I like things to be stable and knowing what’s going on, I like to know what’s coming next, I like to know what to expect … and that’s just not life right now.
Our entire world is dealing with a pandemic that we’ve never seen before. We are all thrown into the deep end of uncertainty.
Have You Hit the Wall Yet?
Not knowing what’s coming up or what to expect keeps me off balance, and I’ve been off balance for more than 6 months now – we all have.
Someone recently told me about a 6-month wall. It’s when we’ve held everything in for so long, and we can’t hold it in anymore. Here’s some of what I’ve read about it:
“The six-month mark in any sustained crisis is always difficult. We have all adjusted to this ‘new normal,’ but might now feel like we’re running out of steam. Yet, at best, we are only one-third of the way through this marathon. How can we keep going? First, in my experience, this is a very normal time to struggle or slump. I *always* hit a wall six months into a tough assignment in a disaster zone. The desire to ‘get away’ or ‘make it stop’ is intense. I’ve done this many times, and at 6 months, it’s like clockwork”. ~Professor Aisha Ahmad of the University of Toronto
I have definitely been feeling this 6-month mark, and to be honest, I didn’t give the virus and the pandemic and everything else we’re going through enough credit for the stress I was feeling. Understanding this 6-month wall reminds me it’s only temporary.
I want to acknowledge and witness what we’re all living through. We’ve all been holding our breath for some time now – 6 months or more, depending on where you’re living. Things aren’t going to go back to the way they were, we’re going to have to create new ways of being, and that’s stressful in itself.
But we don’t have to pretend everything is okay when it’s not. We are surrounded by new challenges.
6 Simple Ways to Manage Uncertainty
So, how can we manage all this uncertainty? We adapt and thrive.
And to help with that, here are six simple and practical ideas to help you navigate uncertain times:
1. Acknowledge the uncertainty.
I actually say to myself or my husband, “I don’t know what’s going on, and I’m really uncomfortable with it.” Just saying it out loud makes me feel better – my friend Karen calls this “giving it air.”
Giving it air alleviates internal pressure. That may sound silly, but when we hold things inside, they can fester and grow into more than they need to be. I always say that there’s more room outside than in!
Just admitting that I feel uneasy and acknowledging that things are hard or uncertain gives me permission to not know what’s going to happen next and to not be prepared.
I pride myself on being prepared, but there is so much in this world that I simply can’t anticipate or prepare for – a global pandemic, no travel, the world shutting down, and not being able to hug my family were NOT on my 2020 bingo card.
2. Allow the feelings that come up.
It’s okay to be sad, scared, overwhelmed, stressed, irritated … or all of the above.
Most of us, including myself, feel some of the above throughout the week, if not a rotating door with all of them. It’s okay. You’re human. So am I.
When we don’t allow our feelings or shove them down is when they grow out of control, and the more they grow, the more uncomfortable they become, and we look to numb even more.
But if we can name the feelings and sit with them – which I suck at (like I said) – they will pass.
Our feelings really only last about 90 seconds if we allow them to come in and actually be felt. I often forget to name them or identify them, and that’s when I feel so overwhelmed and flooded with emotion. I feel like I’m in a riptide sometimes, so I’m still working on this.
Allowing your feelings to be felt may mean having a good cry, yelling at the top of your lungs (in a pillow or not), journaling what you’re feeling, or energy work to help release the internal pressure.
That energy HAS to be released somehow, and when you choose when and how to release it, you’re more in control.
When we bottle up our feelings, they can take on a negative form, like overeating or excessive drinking, avoidance, the glorification of busy, and many other ways of numbing.
Shoving down your feelings doesn’t make them go away, it only creates another issue somewhere else … it’s like Whac-A-Mole!
So, let’s let them OUT. Let’s recognize them and let them out.
3. Recognize that we can’t control anything outside of ourselves.
This is my lesson in life! I can’t control everything, no matter how much I want to. I must remind myself of this fairly often.
I can’t control how someone reacts to my words; I can only control myself. I can’t control any situation, only how I react to it. Reminding myself that so much of what we see in the world today is beyond my control helps me focus on what I CAN control – my thoughts, my words, and my actions … and that’s it!
When I focus on what I CAN control, I let go of my grip of wanting to control everything else, and that does bring a little bit of ease and peace.
4. Step away from the news and social media.
Generally, I love social media, but lately, it’s been too much for me.
All of the sparring, choosing sides, ignorance, hatred – it’s too much for me, and I’ve had to make a conscious effort to not spend my energy on low-vibration stuff that weighs me down. And right now, social media and the news carry those low vibrations that I don’t want.
Instead, I’m choosing to read more, and I haven’t been much of a reader before now, but I’m actually loving it. I usually read lots of self-help books because I love them, but I’m reading for pure pleasure now.
I’m not watching TV, I’m not watching the news, and I’m not spending hours on social media. Instead, I’ve read some amazing fiction and great biographies, and I’m realizing that I don’t have to be on top of all the daily shitshow news or the latest arguments on Facebook.
I want to see pictures of kids and dogs and happiness and beautiful landscapes, and that’s all. It won’t be forever, but this is my right now: I pop in to post and respond to posts, but I don’t scroll my news feed.
5. Create a peaceful space for yourself.
Creating a zen zone in your home can be a huge help. I have a one in my office that grew organically, without a plan. It’s my place to be still, meditate, read, journal, or just sit and think, and feel at peace … I call it my sacred corner.
Maybe you can add an altar of your favorite things in a corner, or maybe it’s a reading corner with an oversized chair and snuggly blanket. Maybe you have your comfy clothing or slippers to finish the luxurious feeling you’re going for.
This sacred space to retreat and relax can calm your nervous system and bring you to a more centered place.
6. A change of scenery can be helpful.
You may not want to travel right now (I know I don’t…), and you might not have money for a private jet, either (I know I don’t!), but you can still get away and create some space for yourself.
Even if it’s simply taking a walk in a different location, a change of scenery cannot be underestimated. We need a change-up from the Groundhog-Day-repeat-replay that has become our daily at-home lives.
Find a park or a new place that you’ve been wanting to visit, and go. Wear your mask, go during an off-time so it’s less crowded, and pack a cooler so you won’t have to eat out if you’re not comfortable with that. Remember your wipes 😊
Give yourself that gift of joy. You deserve it.
Riding out this storm doesn’t mean we have to run into our bunkers and white-knuckle everything until this passes … because who knows when it’s going to pass!
This is an opportunity to create some new rituals for ourselves and our families. It’s a blank canvas, so let’s get creative.
This Is Your Permission Slip
This is your permission slip to stop holding it all together, to breathe. I know you’re holding your breath because I’ve been holding mine.
It’s okay to cry and feel your feelings deeply.
It’s okay to feel like a mess sometimes … I know I do!
It’s okay to want all of this to be over and to get back to some kind of normal. I understand that, but that’s not the reality we’re living in.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones the best way you know how, and take care of yourself first – you cannot pour from an empty teacup.
We are all navigating this uncertainty and dealing with things we’ve never had to deal with before, and it’s hard.
And it’s also an opportunity to show ourselves (and others) some patience, grace, and love.
We will get through this … together.
Until next time…