I’ve often found that the feeling of anxiety grows and becomes more heightened when questions go unasked.
When we have uncertainty it creates a gap. And for those that are prone to anxiety that gap gets filled with pessimistic possibilities. Often once the feeling of anxiety has started to grow, asking questions feels too difficult or overwhelming. And so the anxiety grows further.
You can attempt to manage the unease until the situation occurs or you can push through the discomfort and ask the questions you have. A helpful reminder to go back to is that you don’t have to feel the way you feel and that you’re worth speaking up for.
From the outside it may seem strange that a person wouldn’t just ask a question if they knew it would ease their anxieties, yet from the inside it’s not so easy.
But anxiety doesn’t have to leave you paralysed. It’s possible and incredibly helpful in the long term to feel anxious and take action in spite of it.
We often make the mistake of thinking that the best way to deal with uncertainty is to remove it from our lives.
It makes sense because without all these unknowns there is less risk and you will feel safer.
But the problem with this approach is that you can’t control everything. Uncertainty will always be a part of life.
However, just because you can’t control it doesn’t mean you should let it control you. Think of the uncertainty like a wave in the ocean. There are small waves, little uncertainties like whether the bus will be on time. Then, there are the big waves, the major uncertainties like whether you’ll be made redundant or how long the pandemic will last.
The small waves can be annoying or frustrating but they pass with ease. The big waves on the other hand they have the power to totally consume us. And so we have to embrace the uncertainty and or else you’ll get caught in the wave and wipe out.
One of the triggers for anxiety is uncertainty.
It’s fair to say that uncertainty is a part of life. However, there are plenty of times in life where you can seek clarity to help fill in the gaps.
This can be done by asking more questions.
When would you like me to complete this?
What time do you want to meet?
How do you feel about this situation?
You don’t have to play the guessing game, you don’t have to wait for someone else to initiate the conversation and you don’t have to live life on someone else’s terms.
Asking questions might also make you feel anxious but maybe that bit of discomfort is worth it now if it means you won’t feel anxious later.
Often when when we face a new situation that involves uncertainty, we automatically assume the worst. We make up a story about how bad it’ll be, how everything will go wrong and how maybe we’d have been better off if things stayed the way they were.
But, change is inevitable and so you have to learn to get used it.
The funny thing about these situations is that, we prepare ourselves for the worst but things never turn out as bad as we think they might.
In fact, things often turn out much better.
We often end up pushing what we really want to the side in favour of something considered more realistic.
The point in having a dream life is being able to acknowledge and accept that where you are may not be where you want to be, then finding ways to bridge that gap.
It’s not about telling yourself, I’ll be happy when…
It’s not about spending all day fantasizing about the life you want as a form of escapism from your real life where you’re miserable.
It’s not about pining after a life where you’re rich and famous.
Often when we make plans for the future we come up with things like stable job, nice house, a few holidays a year and be comfortable financially.
That’s not a dream, that’s something we say because we’re scared of uncertainty. However, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with that life or that you wouldn’t be happy living it.
But try digging a little deeper, get lost in thought and see what comes up. Slowly, overtime your daydreams will come together to form a dream life and it’ll be full and specific.
Once you have that, the next step is bringing it to life which first requires you to believe it’s possible.
Every once in a while you may be forced to come out of your comfort zone.
The idea that what you resist persists is true, some things just can’t be avoided.
You’ve probably been resistant and stuck in your comfort zone because you’re scared, the uncertainty is overwhelming and you’ve become comfortable with what you know.
Sometimes those are good enough reasons to stick with what you know. You don’t need to force yourself to do things that you don’t want to do.
But maybe you feel like you’re holding yourself back or feel are unhappy with the limitations you have placed on yourself.
If that’s the case, embrace the new and get out of your comfort zone.
Of course things that are new and unfamiliar might feel uncomfortable to begin with but over time that feeling will reduce. And maybe in a few weeks, months or even a year those things that once felt uncomfortable will become part of your comfort zone (or at least much less uncomfortable).
Setting goal or making plans for the coming year might seem like a waste of time. We’re in a period of great uncertainty and many of us may have already experienced a long list of things we planned to do in 2020 remain undone.
However, I think a lot of people did much more than they thought they would but in different ways. There was less focus on social activities, in person events and travel but perhaps more emphasis on wellbeing and personal growth.
Maybe this year you started a business, started a project, volunteered, overcame unexpected challenges, read some interesting books, discovered new interests, learned a new skill, developed your confidence, started a new job, got a promotion, visited a new city, bought a house, made new friends, tried some new recipes or figured out what you really want to do with your life.
Some of the things you did this year might seem small or meaningless but you still did them. It’s easy to forget afternoons spent catching up with your favourite people in a cafe, solo dance parties and endless laughter with siblings when you’re focusing on all the concerts you booked that got cancelled or all the places you never got to travel to.
And so for 2021, don’t be afraid to make plans or set intentions for the kind of year you want to have.
The beginning of a new year is as good a time as any to at least check-in, recalibrate and ensure that the life you’re living is leading you in the direction that you want to go in.
I am a firm believer that in almost every moment, you know exactly what you need to do and exactly what decisions you want to make.
So often we see advice from others because we feel stuck or get overwhelmed by possibility and uncertainty. However, what I’ve learnt even is that when you allow yourself to get swept up in the situation it becomes difficult to navigate.
Think of a boat out at sea, once it gets swept up in the waves the boat has very little control.
Or lets take it back to a previous analogy of a boat with no oars, that was the idea of how little control you have without a sense of direction. In this case it’s more about settling your mind and letting the answers come to you instead of seeking them out.
In my experience, in quiet moments I am able to gain answers or clarification on situations where I previously felt like I didn’t know what to do.
It’s something that you have access to if you want to use it but you have to trust that you are capable of figuring out the situations you encounter.
What do you do when the worst possible thing happens.
And by worst possible thing I mean something unanticipated, something that you didn’t plan for that throws you off course.
The common and perhaps most easiest way to react is panic.
Like a sort of ‘Oh my goodness, what I am I gonna do, everything is going wrong, this has gotta be liek the worst possible thing, what am I gonna do now?’
Turns out the popular and easy reaction isn’t particularly helpful.
Instead my experience has taught me that the much more useful thing to is think. Go through the possible scenarios and come up with a solution. Once you’re able to remove some of uncertainty suddenly the worst possible thing isn’t so bad.
Granted you can’t control how things will turn out. However, what you can do is remind yourself that you are capable of overcoming the unexpected.
This is one of the easiest ways to feel better about life.
Instead of gazing into the abyss of nothingness wondering what the future will hold, you can set yourself up with something to look forward to.
It could be a catch up with a friend in a few days time or a holiday a year from now. But it could also be you making time for a hobby you enjoy one evening after work.
I think the reason having something to look forward to can help us feel better is because it gives us some indication of how the future will be. Granted we can’t predict everything but if we can set one or even a few things in stone then suddenly the future isn’t so frightening.
It’s common to fear the unknown and so if you can in some way bring some sense of knowing or stability, it helps make things easier.