I have always hated feeling uncertain. During my teens, I learnt to cope with this by controlling every detail within my reach. When I felt overwhelmed or anxious about the future, I’d procrastinate by writing to-do lists or detailing my future plans. In this way, I buffered against my fear of the unknown for years.
This year has bought many things, but the overwhelming uncertainty of it all has been universal. Bushfires, political unrest, climate emergency, the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and lockdown have left me feeling more uncertain than ever. It feels like I’ve spent the year in a state of perpetual anxiety about the future.
Accept that nothing in life is certain
However, the uncertainty of 2020 has made me realise a reality that I had been avoiding facing for years: nothing in life is certain.
We have no less control over the world now than we did this time last year. Coming to terms with this was incredibly difficult for me. Initially, I spent my time in lockdown compulsively checking the news, as if I could change things by knowing how many new COVID cases there were.
When that didn’t help me regain any sense of control, I flipped the other way and began avoiding the news altogether. It probably won’t come as a surprise that this didn’t work either.
Control your thoughts
After these many months of resisting my fear of uncertainty, I had a moment of clarity. I have never been able to control the future. The only thing in life that is completely certain, entirely in our own control is what we choose to think about the present moment.
Your thoughts control your feelings, and your feelings change your behaviour. The only certain thing that has ever been, or ever will be, is what you choose to think and feel about this moment.
You have absolutely no control over anything external. No amount of worry or time spent planning can change this. Even if you rationally know that worrying doesn’t serve you if you have anxious tendencies letting go can be easier said than done. I’ve personally found Victoria Albina’s teachings on thought work to be really helpful.
Learn to embrace the uncertain
Learning to sit with life’s uncertainty, to make peace with it, is the secret to genuine and lasting happiness. Uncertainty is challenging because life is challenging. Without uncertainty, we wouldn’t have hope, excitement or surprise. Without uncertainty, it wouldn’t be life at all.
This is why I’m learning to embrace the uncertain. I am working towards becoming grateful for the unknown and loving toward the uncontrollable.
How do you cope with uncertainty? Comment below, or tag me on social media for a shout out!