“Do I stay or do I leave?“
“Do I try, and risk failure, or not try and stay where I am?“
To deal with uncertainty is part of life. And as you’ve probably experienced, when it occurs, it can be paralyzing at times. You don’t know what will happen, how things will unfold, or what will taste better for lunch.. the salmon tartare or spaghetti alle vongole!
To deal with uncertainty in life
Instead of trying to fight against it, our job is to figure out how we can embrace it. Because in uncertainty lies also growth, possibilities, and the life you desire.
But here’s the thing: our brains are wired to react with fear when we’re faced with uncertainty. According to a study, as uncertainty in a situation increases, the brain shifts control over to the limbic system where emotions such as fear and anxiety are generated.
Back in our caveman days, this ensured our survival. When uncertainty increased (like when we entered into unfamiliar territory), the fear and caution helped us to survive. Today though, this mechanism causes us to overreact. Worst case, it keeps us stuck in living a moderate life, instead of trying to create an extraordinary one.
For example, you might not start a business due to the fact that it could fail – but then you’d also miss out on the possibility of doing something you love and making the world a better place with your idea.
We all battle with the fear and uncertainty. But, just like learning a new sport, navigating those situations is a skill. And like any skill, you can develop and become better at it.
To help you (and myself, we’re in this together, right?) to turn uncertainty to our advantage, I collected some powerful quotes that have helped me to rise again and again and again.
Read them, ponder them, and embrace them. If one of them speaks to you – write it down so you can read it in moments of darkness. Let it become your mantra so that uncertainty can be transformed into certainty!
1. “When nothing is sure, everything is possible.” – Margaret Drabble
Even though uncertainty entails that things aren’t certain, the other side of the coin is endless possibilities. So, instead of focusing on the lack of certainty, bring your attention to how you’d want things to unfold. What’s your desired end result? What is the best scenario that could take place? Then from that place, go backward and see what the right next step is today.
This is helping me on a daily basis. When uncertainty knocks on the door I start asking myself questions such as: “What could go right?” “What would I like if I could choose freely?”
2. “Whether you say you can or you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
It all lies in the attitude, right? Do you actively look for the reasons you can or can not do something? Basically, you decide whether to perceive something as an opportunity or a threat. Open up to new ideas, perspectives, and possibilities to make your dreams a reality.
If you still doubt yourself, then find someone else who has done what you want to accomplish. Gather all evidence you can to prove to yourself that what you want to accomplish is available to you.
3. “When we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them.” – Evelyn Waugh
This builds on the previous point and the fact that we set our own rules in life. If you keep coming up with reasons, blames or circumstances that stops you – then you’ll for sure stay where you are. If you instead look for reasons that break your current limitations, then you’ll open up to a different world.
For example, instead of thinking “I can’t start a business and make it a success”, change that into a more empowering statement such as “I’ll do the best I can to make my business a success”. Instead of arguing for your limitations, choose to argue for your advantages.
4. “It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.” —Jim Rohn
Progress comes from decisions. Progress comes from trying different options. Progress comes from saying “yes” to one thing and then committing to that wholeheartedly. Make decisions – even if they’re small – to move past any indecisiveness.
Start making quick decisions in your everyday life. Just decide and then adjust your course as you move along.
5. “If you hear a voice within you say “you cannot paint,” then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh
We all have that fear-voice inside telling us we can’t do stuff. Start a business? Nah. Quit your job? Nah. Find your passion? Nah.
One of the most powerful ways I’ve discovered to move past it is to take action. To take small steps in its direction until your actions are louder than your fearful thoughts. If you feel overwhelmed, then break down your steps until they’re tiny. (Baby steps are the best!)
6. “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.” – Buddha
This is the hard truth. You, not someone else, have to become your knight in shining armor. Here’s the thing: f you need someone else to do the work for you, you also give away your power. When you don’t take full responsibility, you do yourself a big disfavor as you tell yourself (and the world) that you’re not able to change. But, you are.
Here’s the other thing: you don’t have to do it all today. Instead of creating overwhelm for yourself, choose to make friends with consistency and commitment. (And also compassion as you stumble and fall, which, if you’re a regular human, you most likely will.)
7. “I found that every single successful person I’ve ever spoken to had a turning point and the turning point was where they made a clear, specific, unequivocal decision that they were not going to live like this anymore. Some people make that decision at 15 and some people make it at 50 and most never make it at all.” – Brian Tracy
Being fed up, confused and absolutely frustrated is a good thing. That’s when we begin to open up to new things, listen to our feelings and to make changes. When we’ve had enough, we’re ready to turn our breakdowns into breakthroughs.
Leverage pain, suffering, and dissatisfaction into something that will propel you forward. Use that energy, not for destruction – but for creation.
8. “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” ― Steve Maraboli
Oh, this is a game-changer! Focus on what you can control, instead of what lies beyond. For example, for a long period, I struggled with public speaking. One of the reasons was that I desperately wanted people to enjoy it. I was so focused on how they responded that I got tangled up in analyzing them instead of delivering a good presentation. That was until I realized this: how other people responded wasn’t within my control. Oh oh!
I had control over what I did – not over how someone else experienced it. Honestly, realizing that was so liberating. So, ask yourself, “Is this within my control?”. If not, then shift your focus towards what you can control. (Hint: you).
9. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr
As humans, we want certainty. That’s why things like a traditional career path attract us – because it provides a sense of safety. When you take the road less traveled or make big changes, you don’t see the full path. You might not even be able to see around the corner, which honestly, can be terrifying. But the thing is, you don’t need to see the full path either.
In fact, not seeing it allows us to stay present and open to new opportunities as they arise. It allows for new doors to open, doors that might not even have been on our radar. Sure, having a vision of what you desire in the future helps, but you can’t hold yourself back from change just because you can’t see the full picture on how to get there.
10. “Clarity comes from action, not thought.” – Marie Forleo
Action brings clarity. When we start to move in the direction we desire people, circumstances, and opportunities will be presented to us. Sitting and doing nothing, will lead to usually… nothing. (Basing this purely on my own experience, alrighty.)
As we try stuff, we clarify if it’s the right direction or not. For example, thinking how it would be to become a yoga teacher was a completely different experience than actually teaching yoga. So take action, even if it means baby stepping your way there. I promise, it will bring you clarity.
Allow Uncertainty to Open Up Possibilities
Either you allow uncertainty to stop, hinder or paralyze you – or to inspire you into opportunities, excitement, and growth.
Eventually, it all comes down to perspective and focus. Choose to focus on growth, instead of stagnation. Choose to focus on possibilities, instead of limitations. Choose to focus on elevating, instead of staying the same.
Who knows, maybe the unknown holds greater blessings than you ever could have imagined?
Photo cred: Sofie Stenmark, Model: Filippa Orback