Living in Uncertain Times

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We are living in an unknown time, trying to figure out how to manage this time. How long is this virus going to last? How many more weeks or months before we can get back to our normal lives? How are we going to come out financially? Can we trust what we are hearing in the news? Is it really safe to be around people even if we are six feet away?

So many questions and so few answers. This can leave us with anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. These feelings can trigger other experiences we have had in our lives where we have felt scared.

This might be difficult to hear, but we actually are always living in uncertainty. We could have an earthquake next week, or a relationship might end, or a job changes. Uncertainty is part of living in this world. It is truly more about how we manage uncertainty and the emotions we experience with it.

Brené Brown, a professor and author who has written about vulnerability, shares that “I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few.”

Yet without these areas in our life from nature to love, what would life be? So how do we manage uncertainty?

First and foremost, we have to accept that this is part of being human. Just within the past two decades, look at how much uncertainty we have had, and are still experiencing, including the recession of 2008 and then 9/11 More recently, school and public shootings have become a weekly event. Now COVID-19. This is a lot of uncertainty, but we could look back through hundreds of years to see how uncertainty was part of living.

Second, we have to realize that we do not have control of things externally, so look inward and ask what can I do? How do I want to manage this?

Third, we need to have people around that listen to us and comfort us and make us feel seen. Getting support, feeling like we belong and that we are all in this together.

This ties into the next step which is making a difference. Doing what we can to help others.

A neighbor brought me over a mask that she bought for me. I have been going weekly to the grocery store for two of my elderly neighbors. I feel good that I can help out where I can and often makes me forget about the impact on myself. My neighbor is an artist and wants to give me a painting for helping out and I just had been looking for a new painting for my house. Shows you how good things can happen through these times.

Next, be able to be flexible and roll with what is happening rather than fight it. This is our reality for the moment. It will change—nothing stays the same. It is painful to fight what is, so instead ask “how do I get through this time?”

Finally, have a positive attitude. This does not mean you do not grieve the losses along the way. However, we allow ourselves the grief, feel the sadness, then pick ourselves up and adjust. We have a new reality now. That is what we need to adjust to.

A friend of mine who is 75 sent me a text the other day that put things in perspective.  She talked about her parents being in a concentration camp for three years and how much more difficult that would have been than being stuck in our houses for maybe two months. We have pretty much all we need, we can FaceTime or Zoom people, we can have food delivered and we can go for a walk (with social distancing).

This time is difficult, but it is a time we can still use to do many other things that we do not always make time for, such as gardening. I just finished a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle. And those salted caramel brownies that I made last week—yummy!

Make a list of all the things that you would like to accomplish during this time, and all the things that might be fun.

Think about these wise words from motivational speaker and author Dave Hollis: “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to.”

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