I’ve never been good with uncertainty.
I hate that I don’t know if I’ll ever get cancer or another debilitating illness. I hate that I don’t know when or how I’ll die. I hate that I don’t know if I’ll be financially solvent the rest of my life.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve demanded to know what’s around the corner, even attempting to control every aspect of life in hopes that I can steer everything in my direction. This only led to increased anxiety and eventually, panic attacks.
So after many years of struggle and disappointment (here’s a tip: no one can win against the natural uncertainty of life), I’ve come to learn that opening our hearts to uncertainty will save us a lot of inner turmoil in the long run.
Instead of becoming crippled with fear over the uncertainties of life, I began to practice employing mindfulness and compassion to carry me through the clutches of the unknown.
Here are some tips for opening to uncertainty with a mindful heart.
Identify where it is possible to take action and then let go of the rest.
With the uncertainty you’re facing, is there anywhere you can take action to minimize unpredictability?
With the uncertainty of illness, perhaps there are healthy habits and lifestyle choices we can adopt to reduce our chances of becoming sick.
With the fear of death, we can commit to living each day with love, instead of letting life pass us by.
When concerned about our financial future, maybe we can start an extra savings account, or work additional jobs.
In every situation, there is some positive action that can be taken to reduce uncertainty.
And, in every situation, there is the part we cannot control.
We cannot control if our healthy lifestyle changes will be enough to keep illness at bay. We cannot control when or how we die, or if we lose our job.
After we take the actions we can take, resolve to let go of the rest. Resolve to let go of that which you absolutely cannot control.
Trust in your own strength.
Behind every fear of the uncertain is the thought that we need to be prepared for what might happen. We’re afraid that we might not be able to handle what comes our way if we aren’t ready.
Unfortunately, we can never truly be prepared for anything in life. We have to trust our own strength.
Trust in your ability to handle what comes your way. Trust that you will be able to navigate through the uncertainties to the best of your knowledge at the given time.
You are stronger than you know. Trust in that.
Adopt a sense of curiosity.
Uncertainty is often met with a sense of anxiety or dread about the future. Instead, try adopting a sense of curiosity and wonder about what’s to come. Allow yourself to bask in possibility. There are an infinite number of outcomes for our uncertain future.
When the “what if’s” begin to flood your mind, notice if they are predominantly negative. Experiment with opening to the possibility of a positive, wondrous outcome. Rather than, “what if death is a painful experience and the afterlife is a horrible place?” delight in the possibilities. “What if death is so peaceful and the afterlife is filled with more love than we could imagine?”
Instead of, “What if I get really sick and am bedridden and miserable?” think, “What if I live a beautifully healthy life, able to do all the exciting things I want to do?”
A rigid mind contributes to fear while a creative, expansive mind allows for endless possibility.
Focus on the present moment.
Fear of the unknown can only happen when we’re focused on the future. The present moment is never uncertain- it just is as it is. Adopting a mindfulness practice can help us transition our thoughts from future uncertainties to the predictability of the present moment.
Stop and notice the constant rise and fall of our breath. Notice the sounds around you. Notice the sensations of the air on your skin. Everything is as it is, and there’s a peacefulness about that.
As soon as we take our attention away from the present moment, into what might happen in the future, anxiety and worry can overtake us instantly.
Dealing with uncertainty can be overwhelming. But, if you trust that you’ve taken all the appropriate actions available, and trust that you can handle what comes your way, the present moment becomes a haven of ease.
What are some ways you guys deal with uncertainty?