Written by Nate White, Portfolio Analyst and Senior Project Manager
“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone” – Blaise Pascal
There seems to be a great deal of uncertainty in the world today. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the usual level of uncertainty in the world has increased. The central question in everyone’s mind is, “When does life go back to normal?”. No one knows the answer to that question or if there will even be a return to normal. While there is no way to remove uncertainty from our lives, we can better understand where we should focus during times of increasing uncertainty.
There are many different ways to deal with the anxiety of the unknown. You may notice specific habits pop up during uncertain times. Pay special attention to your physical and psychological reactions during times of stress. Stressful thought patterns are often an unquestioned habit that we all get stuck in. Being aware of our thought patterns is often tricky but a worthwhile endeavor.
Awareness of any habit is the key to any change. Becoming aware is aided by making time for reflection. Many disparate spiritual traditions have a form of contemplation. These include prayer, meditation, mantras, and sitting quietly. There are many non-traditional ways to clear the mind if meditation, prayer, or quiet reflection don’t work for you. These include a long drive with no destination, walking in nature, intense physical exercise, and reading non-fiction. All these traditions and practices point to is the need to clear the mind and calm the body. Having a clear head and focused mind is the first step to making good decisions.
Once you have a clear mind, you can transfer your uncertainties from your mind to paper. Putting ideas that only exist in your mind onto paper will take power away from the endless thought patterns. When the thoughts are on paper, write down the worst possible outcome from each. Include as many cascading consequences as you can. Now that you have everything out on paper, read them aloud or to someone who won’t judge you. This part of the process will help you distinguish if you have valid concerns or are stuck in a spiral of anxiety. This method will help you identify what uncertainty feels like to you; when uncertainty reappears in the future, you will be ready.
If you still have anxiety and fear around an inevitable event in your life, you should create a plan to relieve that anxiety. Start with the most significant uncertainty and work your way to the slightest issue. Just because uncertainty is present doesn’t mean we have to let it rule our lives.
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