• Dr. Alessandra Wall

Only Uncertainty is Certain

Fact: there is no such thing as certainty.  Even hindsight doesn’t grant us certainty, it merely tells us about the choice we made, not the potential outcomes of the ones we didn’t.


Fact: Without certainty, there is no guarantee that a choice we make won’t be regrettable.

     

Fact: Because we cannot be certain of our choices’ outcomes we may feel anxiety when required to change or take decisive action.


So what should you do if we cannot guarantee the outcome of our choices? Never make a change and keep the status quo? Choose the path most traveled and select the option sanctioned by the largest numbers? Never take a risk or a chance? Surprisingly, this is how many respond to the fear of making a mistake that is part and parcel of change. To avoid the discomfort of uncertainty, we instead passively choose to steer clear of making changes,  making big decisions or taking risks at all.


I’m not one of those people, I invite you to join me in a different approach.


How to overcome the fear of uncertainty


It starts with accepting that uncertainty is certain. Acknowledge that you are neither fortune teller nor seer. That you cannot possibly predict the future and neither can anyone else.


Then understand that all you do know to be true is what is… not what will be. Any choice you make about career, relationships, and happiness needs to be based not on what might happen later, rather on what you know to be true about yourself and the world right at the time you make your decision!


To get to a place where you can act without too much fear, you must know yourself well –  which means you have to cultivate personal insight; be clear on what you need in this moment to be satisfied, and work with that information first and foremost.


(choices + actions ) x insight = THRIVING

When the choices you make and the actions you take are based on insight about what’s right for you, you thrive!


Acting despite uncertainty is healthy


It puts you back in the driver’s seat: Taking thoughtful action. Its the way to gain control over your world and your fate. Even when you can’t guarantee the outcomes of any given choice, making that choice places you in the driver ‘s seat of life’s journey.  Control is good, it makes you exercise your agency. It's important to support your mental health and lends itself to your physical health.


It’s much more fun: Choosing to act despite uncertainty also means you get to experience new things, things you actually want to experience. If all hell breaks loose, and for some reason down the road you realize the choices weren’t optimal, at least you know you tried it your way. There is nothing worse than having your life mucked up because you selected someone else’s choices.


It’s the one big perk of adulthood: Making your own choices is far more fun than having someone else choose for you. As a teenager we yearned to have the right to choose for ourselves, rather than have our lives dictated by what others wanted.


It’s the safer option: Yes, facing the winds of uncertainty is not as safe as passively bobbing through life.


Allowing others to choose for you, or passively staying put for fear of making a mistake is like being stranded in the middle of the Pacific in a dinghy with no oars and no hope of rescue.


Taking a chance on what you feel is right based on a deeper insight about your values and who you are is like sailing through the Pacific in a beautiful ship; it could be a wonderful adventure, you could hit a typhoon, but at least you can steer your way out of danger and towards paradise.

Taking thoughtful action. It's the way to gain control over your world and your fate. Even when you can’t guarantee the outcomes of any given choice,


Taking a chance on the things you believe are right for you increases the likelihood that you will live a life of fulfillment. This provides a great opportunity to make mistakes without regret. It’s hard to regret something when you know deep down inside that there was nothing else you could have done at the time that felt that more right.


How to cope with uncertainty

How do we cope with uncertainty? How do we deal with the fact that despite all our knowledge, hard work and instincts that there are still areas that we cannot answer with complete confidence and there are still choices with outcomes we cannot guarantee?


You take the leap and trust the net will appear!


Taking action despite the inherent fears is normal. We accept that the choices we make can only reasonably be based on what we know to be true about ourself or about our circumstances at this very moment. We do our best to figure out who we are at this point in time and determine what feels now.


And when you realize that there is a question you can’t answer without a doubt, you take a deep breath and realize that you are fortunate to take risks and trust your instincts and are clear on your core values.


When we are clear on our core values our choices become significantly easier to make and the risk/rewards ratio is more appealing.

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