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How to Deal with Uncertainty in 10 Easy Steps

How to Deal with Uncertainty in 10 Easy Steps

What’s next? Which way should I go? What should I do? Uncertainty.

What’s next? Which way should I go? What should I do? Uncertainty. 

We regularly encounter complicated circumstances where the outcomes are unclear. When we are stressed, anxious, or fearful those situations may feel even more daunting and finding a clear direction may feel overwhelming. Living with the reality of an unknown outcome can be paralyzing. Researchers found that worrying something bad might happen can be worse than the actual negative outcome itself.

Some of us handle uncertainty by exerting all the control we possibly can. However, uncertainty and control are opposite forces. 

Instead, we can make it through these moments of uncertainty by lessening or abandoning control, and mindfully managing our response to the great unknowns that creep up in our lives.

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10 Steps to Managing Uncertainty

  1. Accept uncertainty - Simply become aware that the next step is unclear. “I don’t know which way this will go” is a more positive approach than, “I want it to go this way and it isn’t”. 
  2. Tolerate uncertainty - Be patient with yourself as you learn strategies to cope with the ambiguity of a stressful situation. Breathe. Meditate. Pray.
  3. Focus on what you can control - Your own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  4. Learn what you can about the situation - Educating yourself allows openness to different outcomes.  Knowledge is power!
  5. Allow room for joy - Identify what brings you happiness & purposefully seek it.
  6. Eat, sleep, and exercise - Your body and mind will thank you for choosing self-care.
  7. Stay in the present moment - Understand that the “here and now” is your only reality. 
  8. Replace the worry - get outside, keep busy, connect with others to create a healthy distraction.
  9. Faith - Lean on your spiritual core for comfort in unsure moments.
  10. Embrace uncertainty - Deliberately engage in activities that are novel and unpredictable.
  11. You will gain a more optimistic, flexible outlook on things unknown and begin to tolerate discomfort. Try taking a different route, learning a new activity, trying something new. You will be surprised at how your resilience grows when you challenge yourself to move out of your comfort zone and take healthy risks.
  12. The goal of managing uncertainty is to move from obsessive worrying, projecting, and seeking one definitive answer to stepping back and handling unclear situations with curiosity, an open mind, and a new tolerance for being at an uncomfortable crossroads. Practicing these 10 steps will help you in times of doubt and help you flex your resilience muscle.
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This article has been medically reviewed by
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Erin Hillers
Nurse Practitioner

Erin is a Nurse Practitioner with 8 years of experience in midwifery and women's health. She has spent the past 5 years specializing in the treatment of opioid and alcohol use disorders.

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