Does merely reading the title of this newsletter produce anxiety in you? Yeah, I get that. Right now, there is very little that any of us know for sure about how life will unfold in the near and distant future. Yet a sizeable part of what most of us do everyday involves some form of planning ahead. Uncertainty about what's going to happen as we live in a pandemic world creates question after question, which makes planning ahead feel, well, stressful. Would you agree?
The Brain's Difficulty with Uncertainty
As I've mentioned in previous newsletters, dealing with uncertainty is very difficult for your brain. The amygdala (the part of the brain that wants to keep you safe)reacts very quickly to the threat of any perceived danger by immediately setting in motion the body's "fight or flight" response. High energy hormones (cortisol and adrenaline are pumped throughout your body, keeping it in a physical and emotional state of high alert. This continues until the brain senses you are out of danger, at which time it stops sending out these hormones so that your body can return to a more natural, relaxed state.
Feeling uncertain creates a kind of 'short circuit' in the system. When you are uncertain, the brain will keep searching for information to help you resolve your problem. Your body continues to pump out cortisol and so remains in a state of high alert until it senses you have a 'solution.' The twist here, is that your brain is much less likely to be an effective problem solver while in a state of high alert created when you are uncertain. And ironically, getting your brain out of the high alert mode and into a calmer state is actually the key to making the best decisions to plan for the future.
The Brain's Difficulty with Uncertainty
How Can You Move Forward When Facing Uncertainty?
Great question! Anybody who has worked with me knows that as a coach, I never actually tell people what to do. I know, sometimes it's easier to just have the answer! But here's the good news: every situation is unique, and usually, there is more than one way to move forward. But I have a few thoughts.
In general, remember decisions are choices you make using the knowledge you have in that moment. If you need to decide something and are fearful of doing so, it's helpful to let go of believing your solution has to be perfect. The idea of having to make a 'perfect decision' can often paralyze you from moving ahead at all. If you must take immediate action, do so based on the current information available. Obvious, because it is really all you can do. Each option available will likely have both pluses and minuses to weigh. When you pick one, let go of the one you didn't choose. Simply focus on what you gained by the choice you did make. Know that whatever you chose was the right decision for you at that time.
Here are a few helpful ideas to keep in mind regarding ''figuring out" the future:
A New Way Of Experiencing Uncertainty
The current time in which you are living can feel very challenging. So much is new and different compared to the relative auto-pilot life you were living pre-Covid 19. There is no exact formula for dealing with issues that are up-in-the air for you right now. In some cases, holding off on making any decision at all may be the best route. In my family, we often plan things way ahead of time. Now, this time of uncertainty requires that we sometimes postpone decision making entirely (relatively easy when discussing a vacation or an event), and make other decisions without the comfort of feeling there is a 'perfect way' to proceed (less easy when thinking about a major move or a medical procedure). So embracing the challenges of this time may be the name of the game. Letting go of a false sense of "knowing what to do", and opting to see these situations as being wide open, spacious, and holding possibilities that we simply can't foresee.
Perhaps you too, can reframe some of your uncertainty in a more positive way. Recognize the fact that you can only do the best you can under your current set of circumstances, and relax about the things you can't foresee or control. Acknowledge and have compassion for yourself for whatever feelings arise from this new way of operating. By doing this, you may actually experience the freedom of not having to "figure things out," and simply enjoy your life as it is, right here, right now, in this very moment.
Please take care of yourself, and know that I am here to help you during this time of uncertainty and change. I am offering free Shelter-In-Place phone calls to discuss helpful coping alternatives as they relate to your specific situation. That might be:
To schedule a time, just click here.
As always, if you want to learn more about creating the life you desire by developing healthy habits and mindset, and how you can feel great in your body (without losing your mind), hit reply and send me an email, or call me at (201) 803-3257.
I'm also offering a free Discovery Session to discuss your health and life goals and how I can help you. Click here to schedule your free half-hour phone session with no obligation.
I'd love to talk to you!
Please take care and be safe!
In Good Health,