This Mindfulness Practice Can Help you Embrace Uncertainty

Uncertainty can open you to a world of possibility.



(Jacob Lund /

Uncertainty is an emotion that may make you feel unsure about where you are headed. Sometimes, you might wish you had a crystal ball that allowed you to see the future laid out in front of you. You prefer to know how a challenging situation will end, just as it’s beginning. While uncertainty may feel uncomfortable, it’s not a bad thing. Not knowing the future, allows you to imagine a future of possibilities. Not knowing how a situation will wrap up, lets you picture (and work to create) the best possible outcome.

Uncertainty is a reality in life. You can’t stop it from happening. But, you can change your attitude towards it. Here are some strategies for embracing the uncertainty in your life.

Avoiding the second arrow problem

According to mindbodygreen there is a lot to learn from a popular Buddhist parable, known as the second arrow problem. When challenging times strike in life, sometimes, it feels like you are being hit by two arrows, one after the other. The first arrow is the challenging situation. The second arrow is your response to the situation. 

Here’s the thing. The first arrow is often unavoidable. You can’t control everything or prevent obstacles from arising in your life. However, the second arrow is totally avoidable. You can change your response to challenges and dodge that second dart. 

When it comes to uncertainty, many people have a natural stress response to things going wrong and to unpredictability. You can’t stop uncertainty from happening. But, you can train your mind and body and stop yourself from getting bent out of shape about it. Uncertainty throws two arrows at you. How can you evade that second arrow, and prime your mind to embrace and live with the reality of uncertainty?

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A body scan
A body scan mindfulness practice to open the mind to uncertainty and release the body’s built-up tensions is something that mindbodygreen recommends. 

In order to implement this practice, find a quiet and comfortable place. Start by tuning into your body. Shut your eyes. Take deep breaths from the belly. Allow your mind to observe the physical sensations your body is experiencing.

Next, take a minute to scan your body, from top to bottom, for stress. Everyone carries tension differently, so it’s important to work through your body from your head to your toes, to find that hidden stress. Focus on the top of your head first, gradually moving your attention down to your face, your neck, your shoulders, all the way to your toes. When you find a place that is holding tension, make an active effort to release it. Unclench those tight muscles, roll your shoulders back, let go of any heaviness. Find where the uncertainty and stress lurks in your body and let it out.

After releasing the tension from your body, let it go from your mind as well. Start by scanning your mind for uncertainty. Ask yourself, “What are you thinking about when it comes to the day, week, or month ahead? What makes you feel uncertain? What expectations do you have for your future?” 

Now, it’s time to release that anxiety. Realize that all the expectations you have for the future are just that, expectations. They are not a sure thing; they are only a prediction. Wipe those predictions clean from the slate of your mind. Let your brain know that the unpredictability will happen with time. Anything can happen in the future, even unforeseen positive things. Welcome and embrace the future possibilities.

Now, relax your body fully. Lean back and feel the tension escape from your mind and body. You are safe. You are ok, at this moment.

Check-in as needed
PsychCentral reports that in addition to setting aside time to be mindful about your uncertainty, you can use a similar practice to help you in the moment. As soon as anxiety, uncertainty, and tension floods your mind, you can respond on the spot.

The first step is to notice the discomfort and anxiety. Talk to yourself, and acknowledge the way you are feeling, the thoughts running through your minds, and the uncomfortable sensations that arise. 

In addition to scanning your body for uncertainty, you can also breathe deeply, picture the air running through your body, specifically in the place you are feeling the most tension. Next, make space in your body for the uncertainty. Try to describe it to yourself. What does the uncertainty look like? What does it sound like? Become curious about the uncertainty you are feeling. Instead of trying to banish the uncertainty, get to know it and find room for it inside you.

Embracing uncertainty doesn't mean that you're giving up, or that you don't care about the outcome of a situation. It means that you're choosing to stay positive and dodge the second arrow, even when you don't have all the answers. After all, who knows, embracing uncertainty might just lead you to some of life's most surprising and wonderful moments.

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