Puzzled by Life? 4 Ways to Steer Uncertainty Into Clarity
We are all surrounded by it – the unknown.
Not knowing what’s going to happen next can be pretty frustrating. Wandering in no man’s land sparks a series of questions: when we’re going to find the next job, if our lab test results are what we’re hoping for and whether the love of our life is really going to stick through thick and thin. The list goes on.
Uncertainty can also work as a catalyst for new insights. It isn’t easy to get out of the up-in-the-air mode, but there are ways of tapping into the cryptic and channeling that energy into fresh ideas, possibly even clarity.
After reading loads on the topic, as well as real-life experimenting, here are my four favorite ways of dealing with baffling times:
1. Tackle the Anxiety
The biggest trap stopping people from taking action is uncertainty – fear of failure, fear of the undiscovered, fear of rejection. It’s natural to be worried about the future, but trackless territories shouldn’t paralyze us. What helps shift fluster into focus is making sure you take enough down time on a regular basis.
Clear your thoughts by reflecting, meditating and having calm inner dialogues. Try to get to know the true you. At the same time, keep a healthy balance by catching yourself overthinking and micro-analyzing.
Dwelling on things rarely helps. Snap out of unconstructive rumination and instead, distract yourself with something that lifts your spirits. Go for a run, listen to a great podcast, call a friend, watch a crazy movie. Anything that stops you stewing in your own juice.
2. Picture What You Want
Athletes use it, musicians practice it, you can do it. Visualizing your goals is an effective way of giving yourself clarity. Some people use their mind’s eye, others create vision boards. Whichever way you go about it, the point is to imagine the elements you want in your life. It’ll give you a roadmap to see the path ahead.
In addition to thinking about your best possible scenarios, focus on how achieving your goals will make you feel. Which settings and what type of people excite, inspire and motivate you?
Don’t be alarmed if something you want scares you. Improving involves challenging old habits, which at times feels uncomfortable. Maybe you’re heading towards the right direction, getting out of your comfort zone and learning.
3. Do Things that Spread Joy
If we somehow learn to enjoy the process, uncertainty can be a fun experience – mistakes and all. In order to appreciate the ride, I’ve had to practice giving up control and letting the universe work its magic.
It doesn’t have to be a passive wait. What changes our state of mind and energy level is action. Even if you’re not exactly sure what you should be doing, start by changing your physiology. If you’re sitting, get up, blast some music and dance like it’s nobody’s business.
One of the best advice I’ve gotten to navigate uncharted waters is to stop over-focusing on getting what I want. Instead start living life and being of service to others. Try to remember to focus on the experience itself and not so much on the outcome. Getting what you want will come as a by-product.
The interesting thing about action is that if you’re doing it right, as a result you will be rejected by some. But that only means you’re on the right track: it’s impossible to please everybody. If you’re being your unique and authentic self, you will soon notice who shares your values.
4. Re-Program Your Mind
Cognitive psychology looks at the mind as an information processor that affects behavior. The predictive encoding method suggests that if we prepare ourselves for what we’re looking for, we’ll identify it, when we encounter it.
Predictive encoding helps us spot the cues that match our goals. In other words, recognized opportunities trigger us to pursue previously-formulated goals restored in our memory.
Combining all of the above will shift our thoughts from uncertainty towards clarity. The more we are ready for chance encounters, the more likely we are mentally equipped to recognize what we truly want.
Whatever your process looks like, sometimes it’s not so much about finding the best possible option. It’s more about deciding on it. You could always land with a better solution, but at some point you become ready to lock down what you want. That particular choice then becomes the best answer to your specific question.
How do you deal with life’s perplexing moments? Please share, I’d love to learn.