Three strategies to deal with uncertainty

For fun there are some things I like to ponder over, such as:

Can a bald man have a hairline fracture?

How much deeper would the ocean be if there weren’t any sponges in it?

Why do we leave cars worth thousands of pounds on the drive and put our junk in the garage?

And there are times when we all ponder more serious things, like… the future. (Cliche alert) One certainty of the future is… uncertainty.

If we think our life is going to be disrupted more than what we think is acceptable then we tend to go, in some lesser or greater degree, in to a panic. More so when the realisation of uncertainty comes to the fore. Why? Because we’re hard wired to react to uncertainty with fear.

A great example was when last March the world for the first time ever went in to Lockdown. It’s a natural knee-jerk reaction, when facing uncertainty, to be fearful. Also, the less information we have (or the more confusing the information), the more we feel we’re not in control, the more uncertain we become the more fearful we can become.

It’s all down to our instinct for survival which, ironically, is working against us. Survival is our prime directive and our default way of thinking is to be hesitant and cautious, ie fearful.

With the right strategies up our sleeve we can override this thinking and put ourselves in a frame of mind which phenomenally increases the odds of improving the quality of our decision making. It’s our emotions that cloud our minds in the face of uncertainty. Note I said, ‘phenomenally increase the odds’ because even with a clear mind making the ‘right’ decision is not a certainty.

This is far from an exhaustive list but let me start you off with three strategies to help you dispel the fear of uncertainty:

1) Be mindful when you go in to (even a mild) panic. You might notice yourself having irrational thoughts, you may even notice those irrational thoughts intensifying. If so, pause and take a breath. Spend a couple of minutes or so doing a deep breathing exercise, here’s one I use. Deep breathing calms down our limbic system and allows our rational mind to take over.

2) Take stock of the facts and the assumptions you’re making. Better still, write two lists, one stating the facts, the other the assumptions. It’s sometimes difficult knowing what is fact and what is assumption. Here’s a little trick you can use to help you decide, once again it’s not guaranteed but it helps. Ask yourself, ‘How do I know? Eg Fred said he didn’t like me. How do I know? He said it to my face, so therefore it’s a fact. But if he just ignored you, when you passed him in a corridor, then (depending on other factors) it’s likely to be an assumption. Knowing the difference between assumption and fact helps put things into perspective. Of course, there are times when assumptions have to be made and that’s fine. At least if we know they’re assumptions and we know what we’re working with.

3) Don’t dwell on problems, dwell on solutions. I’ve mentioned this many times before. Dwelling on solutions means asking ourselves (by ourselves I mean we, the individual), what are our options? What are we in control of? What can we do? What resources do we have we can use? What do we need to let go of (in other words stop worrying about)? Who can we turn to for help? Who can we collaborate with? You might think of some other useful questions too.

As I said not an exhaustive list but a good start.

What are your favourite strategies for dealing with uncertainty? I’d love to know, please email me at [email protected]

I must go now I have another important thing to ponder, how is that shops that are open 24 hours have locks on the doors?