How to Embrace Uncertainty and Take Action Into the Unknown

Some of life’s most precious moments all happen unexpectedly.



(James Wheeler /

At one time or another, we have experienced the anxiety that comes from uncertainty. The unknown can lead our thoughts to wander, imagining every possible outcome. Fear of the worst case scenario can cause panic. However, as much as we would much rather have control and stability in order to feel safe, we can never know what lies ahead.

The good news? People can learn to embrace uncertainty by developing certain skill sets. These different approaches will help calm the mind, manage anxiety, and feel less uncomfortable in facing uncertainty.

Acknowledging Uncertainty in the First Place
Sometimes, we may react to uncertainty by pretending it doesn’t exist in the first place. We may mask or push away feelings of discomfort. However, this will not make those emoticons disappear. In fact, we may act out in unhealthy ways to try and better control our environments, whether through delusions, drugs, superstitions, perfectionism or controlling others.

Accepting negative emotions can actually reduce anxiety. Rather than fighting against the aversive feelings, try to take a deep breath and acknowledge the way uncertainty makes you feel. You could go for a quiet walk, sit in meditation, or even talk through your emotions with friends. In some cases, you may want to speak to a professional who can help you process difficult emotions. Developing the skill to address emotions might feel difficult at first, but over time, you will get better at it.

Activities for Embracing Uncertainty
Because uncertainty affects people universally, many cultures have explored how to deal with uncertainty in healthy ways. Buddhists practice mindful meditation, for example, a type of meditation that involves focusing attention on the present moment. Although difficult at first, practicing mindfulness can help to appreciate the present and reduce worrying so much about the future.

The Hindus had their own techniques that they developed over three thousand years ago and has now become popular all over the world. Yoga combines strengthening and stretching poses with deep breathing and meditation. If you find yourself struggling with uncertainty, taking up a yoga class can help to relax and reduce anxiety.

In the Far East, Chinese practice tai chi, a low-impact, slow-paced form of martial arts. The exercise involves balancing a person’s internal life force, or “qi,” through movement and meditation. Practicing this traditional Chinese “mind and body” technique can help restore balance and reduce worry.

For many, prayer can provide a powerful way to relieve anxiety and embrace uncertainty. In his Serenity Prayer, American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, beautifully wrote, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” In times of anxiety, you can repeat this prayer to yourself to bring a sense of calmness.

Uncertainty Can Be a Good Thing, Too!
Unknown situations don’t always turn out so badly! After all, some of life’s most precious moments, meeting a true love, landing a dream job, traveling to a new place, all happen unexpectedly. Not to mention, too much predictability would feel boring and prevent us from enjoying new, exciting experiences for us to grow and blossom into better people.

Remember, you can’t control everything, but by developing skills and finding the time to relax your thoughts, you’ll learn to embrace life’s uncertainties.

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