Worry is an unpleasant feeling that most, if not all, people encounter at various points throughout their life. Since we cannot fully predict how a future event will turn out, sometimes we agonize over what will be and can’t handle the uncertainty. That is often the root of worry and anxiety. Therefore, a way one can cope with and possibly eliminate those negative feelings is to learn to accept uncertainty.
How to accept uncertainty:
Stop Catastrophizing: When one is feeling anxious they may tend to catastrophize and go to the worst case scenario. Most of the time, the outcome is not as bad as the person imagined it would be. When you find yourself becoming anxious over a situation, ask yourself “how likely is it that that will really happen?” Many people are surprised to find, when they consciously decide to answer that question, they realize it is not very probable, making the uncertainty of the future event more bearable.
Cope Ahead: A lot of the time when one is worrying, they foresee a bunch of potential negative outcomes, which is what creates the anxiety. When that is the case, imagine yourself managing well in all the various potential outcomes and ultimately being ok. Take the time to sit and really visualize each scenario and what it would look like. Then watch yourself coping and handling the situation well. Showing yourself that you will be fine no matter what will make the uncertainty of the future less scary.
Focus on the present: When you allow yourself to obsess over the uncertainty, not only does it create unnecessary stress, but it get so built up in your mind that you lower your overall tolerance. Keeping your thoughts in the present and trying to distract from the worry thoughts help one to have the mental energy to manage uncertainty as it comes.
Be your own cheerleader: Come up with a mantra or words of encouragement that you can say to yourself. This helps keep your focus positive and increases resiliency. Therefore, you can feel more confident and self-assured when facing uncertainty. Some examples of good mantras are: “I am strong and courageous and can get through this!” “I believe in myself and my capabilities!” “I can handle whatever comes my way!”
Compare to past events: Throughout our lives, situations come up where we worry due to uncertainty. It generally turns out fine. Even if there is some short term stress and tension, ultimately, people are resilient and move on. Remembering these times where we were fine and things turned out fine can help one to maintain confidence when faced with uncertainty. These past situations are proof of one’s capability to handle things and they reinforce that uncertainty is not necessarily a bad thing and something one can handle.
Practice, practice, practice! The more you implement these tools, the more habitual they will become in your mindset. It will take conscious effort in the beginning but eventually uncertainty overall will not feel as terrifying, therefore, lessening the amount and intensity of worry.