Facing Future Uncertainty Without Anxiety

By Paul R. Scheele Ph.D. | Articles

When you contemplate the future, it is easy to recognize that there are many unknowns. From childhood we develop a mindset of considering the unknown as potentially dark and foreboding, and that uncertainty is to be avoided.

 The common way to view uncertainty is to worry that you will be insufficiently resourced (not smart enough, rich enough, fast enough) to handle future problems. For example, when you are asked to speak to a group, the thought of being unprepared, doing badly, and embarrassing yourself can pop into mind.

The natural response to thoughts of insufficiency will be anxiety—the brain and body’s natural mechanism for stopping you from getting yourself into trouble.

Could we also consider that the future is a “fertile unknown”—a future filled with endless positive possibilities, bright with potential rewards and abundant success? Such a mindset may sound overly optimistic—even “Pollyanna”—but is a requisite one for navigating in new territory.

An ideal way to view uncertainty is to imagine arriving at a time when you have already successfully attained your desired outcome. For example, after speaking to a group you receive accolades for your effectiveness, clarity, and poise.

The natural response will be to search for the best ways and means to achieve the success you’ve imagined.

While we cannot to “predict and control” the possible futures that lay ahead, we can use our thinking to stay in touch with our resourcefulness. We can “sense and respond” to unfolding events.

Much like a surfer on a surfboard, recognizing you cannot control the wave or fully predict how it will behave, you can instead sense how the wave is emerging and respond to ride it most effectively.

Increase your willingness to stand in the uncertainty of the future. Project the image of a positive outcome and set your mind to generate possibilities for success. Remain relaxed so that you can sense and respond most effectively to whatever unfolds. As you do you are developing the skill of what researchers are calling “radical adaptability.”

Best of all, your skills give you the ability to face uncertainty without anxiety.

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© Paul R. Scheele, Ph.D. | Scheele Learning Systems | All Rights Reserved