The future is necessarily unpredictable, so uncertainty is something all human beings come up against. That’s not a bad thing per se. Uncertainty stimulates planning and resilience, and forces us to adapt to changing conditions. The sum of all that is personal growth, which is always a good thing.
However, sometimes uncertainty can be overpowering. Our planning and resilience may not be enough to stave off the pressures of said uncertainty. In other instances, uncertainty can overwhelm us to the point that we can’t plan. The current pandemic seems to be exemplifying both of these by pushing people to their brink and overwhelming them. Here’s a guide on how to cope with the uncertainty of the times.
How Do We Work?
Before you learn to cope with uncertainty, it’s important to understand why uncertainty affects us the way it does. Our nervous system is the result of multiple millennia of evolution. Our ancestors developed a flight-or-fight (and sometimes, freeze) response (or stress response) that helped them handle the threats they faced. We inherited this system, but over time, we discovered new and more efficient ways to adapt.
For instance, planes and cars (and equestrianism and sailing earlier) were adaptations to our need to travel long distances. Over time, we learned to adapt our environment to our needs, thereby minimizing the need to evolve biologically. That’s not to say that our flight-or-fight response is useless; in fact, it’s vital for our protection, as our adaptations aren’t entirely safe.
However, it’s not always useful. Due to our upbringing, experiences, etc., we develop fears, and we continue to be afraid of said things even after they’ve left. The pandemic isn’t so different. While some fear in response to uncertainty is desirable, we often overthink, conjuring up least-likely scenarios and beginning to stress out.
Responding to Our Internal Wiring
So, the question on your mind should be “how do I calm my flight-or-flight response?” If you are thinking that, you’re already on the correct path. The first step to calming the response is to understand that it’s instinctual but not necessary. In other words, you’re not doomed to constantly experience this response.
Awareness of your experience can help weaken its impact. Additionally, sitting with your feelings (as if sitting with a worried child) can also help the feelings pass easily. Besides these, you should also consider therapy to help rewire your thinking and behavioral practices. If you’re looking for a licensed anxiety therapist in Alabama, get in touch with me. My name is David E. Myers, and I provide anxiety therapy in Birmingham, Hoover, Vestavia Hills, Mountain Brook, and Gardendale, AL.