Uncertainty. You have heard that word so many times recently, haven’t you? No doubt you have experienced uncertainty as the world around you changes and those changes are outside of your direct control. You have been advised to be ‘flexible’ in your thinking and to ‘pivot’ with change (puts me in mind of an episode of Friends! Pivot! Pivot!).
Let’s think about uncertainty, what is it really? First of all, let’s turn to the deeply fascinating world of quantum mechanics and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.
Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle states that there is inherent uncertainty in the act of measuring a variable of a particle. Commonly applied to the position and momentum of a particle, the principle states that the more precisely the position is known the more uncertain the momentum is and vice versa. There is a fundamental limit to what one can know about a quantum system. There is also a limit to what we can know in life, in your life.
When you experience uncertainty, it can be described as a feeling that is experienced when you are not certain about yourself or your worldviews (Van den Bos, 2009). A central premise of certainty is that humans naturally engage in a fundamental, cognitive process of “sense-making” in order to fully understand themselves and their lives. This sense of ‘knowing’ is what makes us human.
Your life is full of unpredictable events and for the most part, you have learned to live and cope with the inherent uncertainties of life. You cope until those uncertainties accelerate beyond what you are comfortable with and then something else happens. We become afraid of uncertainty.
Fear of the unknown is the tendency to be afraid when you have no information on any level about something you face. It can escalate into an intolerance of uncertainty. Then you are living in fear and anxiety.
Simply put, when you have uncertainty anxiety, you are feeling pushed outside of what is comfortable for you and you feel out of control of your environment and your life circumstances. This creates a level of fear about what may happen outside of your control, it feels very disempowering.
So, what can you do about it?
Here are some quick tips for bringing certainty back into your world:
1. Remind yourself what certainty feels like. It’s easy to forget what it feels like to be certain when you are living in uncertainty.
Think of a specific time when you felt really certain about something, anything. Close your eyes and go back to that time in your mind. Imagine you are floating down into your body and hear what you heard, see what you saw and feel the feelings of being completely certain. Notice how it is for you to be certain. Open your eyes and bring that certain feeling with you into now.
2. Now shrink down your world for a moment. Leave the big picture of the world, the country, the community, work, even family and focus entirely on you. Now you are entirely in control as you are always the one thing that you are totally in control of. As you notice that you are in control of you, your actions and re-actions, you can feel empowered now.
3. In your certainty state and feeling empowered, write a list of everything that you are certain of right now. Everything you have control of, even the smallest detail. The list will be longer that you would have imagined! Now trust in your inner resources. As a human being you have an innate ability to deal with uncertainty. It’s part of your make-up, your genetic imprint, connect with it now, would you?
4. Now, begin to widen out your world again, only as quickly as you can retain your empowerment and certainty. If the uncertainty comes back, shrink your world down again to only you and repeat the above exercise again. Certainty will soon become a habit again.
Just like the world of quantum mechanics, it is impossible to be certain about everything as you never have all the information about everything. Enjoy the certainty that you have all the resources you need to be empowered and certain. Stepping outside of your comfort zone into the unknown is what causes your comfort zone to expand and for you to develop and grow. The world of physics would never have developed into quantum thinking if someone hadn’t learned to accept and be comfortable with uncertainty. Remain in control of you and the rest is an adventure worth taking.
You can learn more when you attend our Enhanced NLP Coach Practitioner Certification Training, there is one coming up very soon, take hold of the opportunity now.