4 Tips for Dealing with Change and Uncertainty
The fact that you are reading this message indicates that either you are going through a rough patch, or someone you care about is struggling with something. It could be related to health, finances, family relationships, or simply your identity. Life has an amusing way of disrupting our sense of calm and stability.
As a life coach for entrepreneurs, my goal is to empower you and assist you in navigating life’s difficulties with ease and grace. Through my coaching programs, I offer the support, direction, and tools required to overcome hardship and unlock your full potential.
Therefore, if you are presently grappling with uncertainty, don’t worry; you are not alone. In reality, it’s a fantastic place to start for personal growth and transformation.
In this article, we’ll explore various approaches and methods that may assist you in safely navigating this tough stage of your life.
Hot days in the summer
How do you deal when things get hot and borderline oppressive?
I live in Central Texas, and our summers are rough! Last summer, the high temperatures were around 100-110F for the past two (yes, two!) months.
The weather was so bad that you would think you could cook an egg on the hot sidewalk.
I know Texans who literally flee to northern altitudes (Canada, Boston, and Colorado) to escape the oppressive summer heat, but unfortunately, I wasn’t one of those lucky souls.
I remember the day it finally rained. It felt like a miracle! God blessed us with much-needed rain that soaked the cracked and blistered soil.
As I looked at the rain pouring down, I was grateful for the moisture, and I suddenly forgot about the months of hot, oppressive heat.
Are you going through something difficult and oppressive now?
A family crisis?
A challenging health condition?
Or just feeling uncertain?
Yes, it feels terrible in the moment. If you have been reading my articles for quite some time, you know I have my fair share of painful and difficult stories. And truth be told, my early childhood was far from a paradise.
But take heart. Things will get better.
Relief will arrive even when it feels like you are not moving or when you want to give up. You can and will overcome your fears and uncertainties with the right tools.
How to deal with change and uncertainty
Here are four steps that can help you:
- Be mindful of your thoughts,
- Choose what matters most now,
- Rewire your mind about how you view your priorities, and
- Focus on what you can do, not what you are up against.
Let’s break them down into further detail.
Be mindful of your thoughts
Transactional analysis is a branch within psychology that helps us understand ourselves through our ego states.
To make it worse, too many of us have been enamored by the glamorization of victimhood in western culture. Instead of owning up to our own moral and personal setbacks, we shift the blame to our educators, parents, neighbors, or even the government.
People stay in a perpetual state of crisis and uncertainty because, sadly, it feels much more comfortable to be helpless than to bear the full weight of personal responsibility.
Much of my own trauma healing work came from the moment I surrendered the desire to enjoy my own victimhood.
When I am a victim, I automatically need to have someone who plays the roles of my enabler and my persecutor, creating the victimhood triage, as shown in the image below.
What is mindfulness?
The concept of mindfulness is often misconstrued as simply thinking positive thoughts or maintaining a cheerful and optimistic mindset.
Yet, it entails so much more than that.
Mindfulness requires a conscious decision on your part to be aware of your thoughts and the impact they have on your well-being.
It is about taking the time to reflect on who you are, your actions and their impact on others, making note of both helpful and hurtful behavior, with the intention of maintaining focus on your personal power.
Why is mindfulness useful?
By cultivating an intentional mindset, you can strengthen your ability to respond to challenging situations with a clear and positive attitude, and ultimately develop a greater sense of inner peace and fulfillment.
So, the next time you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts or engaging in harmful behaviors, remind yourself to stay focused on your personal power.
Similar to how there are guardrails on the road to keep you safe, keep guardrails against things that anger, distract, or frustrate you. The moment you indulge in negativity, it will suck you up faster than a cheap Kmart wig in a hurricane.
Be intentional with your actions
Now that you know that you must put “guardrails on your mind,” the next step is focusing on what matters most.
It is super easy to get lost, be unproductive, and get distracted when it feels like everything is burning down around us.
However, now is the time to understand that you don’t have to succumb to the chaos around you. And talking about chaos … here’s a common question I get asked:
“Why do I have a meltdown when a crisis or uncertainty strikes?”
Why you want to melt down when things are stressful
When your brain feels overwhelmed, it can easily trigger a sympathetic nervous response. The amygdala, which acts as a watchdog for potential threats, prompts you to either do one of the following responses:
- Fight back (argue and complain),
- Flight (evade or deflect from painful feelings),
- Freeze (zone out watching television or doom-scroll content on social media/internet),
- Fawn (try to please our way out of things), or
- Faint (oversleep or be in a lethargic state).
However, there is a way to get out of this – you can prioritize your day.
How to prioritize your day when you feel stressed and overwhelmed
Even in the most stressful moments, you can choose which activities that you can focus on. For each activity, you can choose to either to:
- Do it now (DO),
- Schedule for a later day/time (SCHEDULE),
- Delegate to an assistant or contractor (DELEGATE), or
- Eliminate because it or they are neither worth the effort nor hassle (DELETE)
For your reference, below is a prioritizing table so that you can see which parts of your life need to be rearranged so that you can manage your energy levels throughout the day.
Also, you can read this article I wrote about how to maximize your productivity.
Rewire your mind about how you view your priorities
Too many people try and fail at different things not because of their lack of desire, but because of how they view change.
When things are unpredictable and chaotic, it is all the more reason to have a definiteness of purpose.
In the following example, I will talk about purpose through the example of exercise and fitness. However, this can be any challenging or uncertain situation that you are currently going through.
Pills, drugs and quick-fixes
The mind can and will sabotage you if you don’t give it a proper roadmap.
That’s why the weight loss drug Ozempic can’t and won’t work long-term.
That is why most people who go on shows like “My 600-lb Life” and “The Biggest Loser” don’t keep off the weight.
Think of it this another way – Let’s say I told you that you need to hop up and down five times every day – morning, noon, and night, to get flat abs. After awhile, you start to see your abs get toned and sleek.
Do you still want to continue this strict routine once you get that toned midsection?
But most likely, excuses and procrastination start once you feel like you have “arrived.”
Then when your stomach gets flabby, you will feel discouraged, and it gets worse. I’ve seen it too many times when I worked as a medical exercise specialist.
Once people get the immediate payout, the habit falls flat. And then the subconscious will revert right back to old habits.
There are serious subconscious messages that need to be addressed first before you attempt any new habit or try to overcome any challenge.
Focus on where you want to be, not where you are at now
If you want to survive your current crisis and see yourself through this uncertain time, it will require that you take yourself out of a state of pain and misery.
Studies have proven that resilient people view themselves as achieving, even in the midst of going through horrific situations.
Transporting to a warm and comforting place
As I write this, I am reminded of Viktor Frankl’s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” in which he gives a powerful example of his fight to survive in Auschwitz, one of the worst Nazi concentration camps. Below is an excerpt from the book:
“Almost in tears from pain (I had terrible sores on my feet from wearing torn shoes), I limped a few kilometers with our long columns of men from the camp to our work site.
Very cold, bitter winds struck us. I keep thinking of the endless little problems of our miserable life. What would there be eat tonight? …..How could I get a piece of wire to replace the fragment that served as one of my shoelaces? ….What could I do to get on good terms with the Capo…
..I became disgusted with the state of affairs which compelled me, daily and hourly, to think of only such trivial things. I forced my thoughts to turn to another subject.
Suddenly I saw myself standing on the platform of a well-lit, warm and pleasant lecture room….I was giving a lecture on the psychology of the concentration camp!
All that oppressed me at that moment became objective, seen and described from the viewpoint of science.
…Emotion, which is suffering, ceases to be suffering as soon as we form a clear and precise picture of it. “
Question to think about
How are you feeling about your current circumstances? Are you letting them overwhelm you?
If so, now is the time to start visualizing where you want to be, not where you are. You can still be in a miserable situation but not make yourself feel miserable by ruminating about sad and painful feelings.
Focus on what you can do, not what you are up against
I don’t know what challenge you’re currently facing.
You may have an inoperable cancer, or perhaps a loved one died unexpectedly and tragically, or you were forced to move locations or even close your business.
I don’t know, and I’m not even going to tell you that your situation isn’t real or serious to you.
But what I will do is remind you of your ability to overcome your challenges by focusing on the things within your power.
Here are some questions to help you shift from a position of weakness to power:
- What is the best kind of support you need now? How can you obtain it?
- What can you do to advocate for yourself and your needs?
- How have you overcome past struggles and learned from them to improve your resilience?
When you focus on what we can do, it diminishes the power of the obstacles around you.
Personally, starting a coaching practice focusing on addictions and traumas felt like an uphill battle, as I lacked the credentials in psychology or medicine. But the only thing I could focus on was learning more and sharing what I had learned with others.
Now, I encourage you to choose to focus on what you can do.
Trust me, it will change everything. Below is an image that summarizes everything we we discussed together.
Going through an uncertain or challenging situation is not easy. I am not going to insult your intelligence by telling you some cheap platitudes.
The cold, hard truth is that emotional maturity requires suffering at some point in your life.
But you don’t have to let your challenges embitter, paralyze, or discourage you. You have the choice to lift yourself up even when it feels like the world has abandoned you.
Choose to focus on your what is possible, be intentional and, even if things haven’t changed, you have changed for the better (hopefully in the process).
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MENTAL HEALTH ADVICE
The information in this article is for informational purposes only. No material in this article or website is to be a substitute for professional medical and/or mental health advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you read from me or anyone else online.
Also, this article is not designed to diagnose or treat you or anyone with a suspected mental health illness. Please, if you need help, seek appropriate help from a lawyer, health care provider or law enforcement officer.