4 Healthy Steps To Move Forward Through Uncertainty

4 Ways To Cope With Uncertainty

Most people aren't too keen on uncertainty — they prefer stability, routine, and a sense of control over their lives.

Individuals crave steady ground to walk on, assurance that everything will be alright, a desire for safety and security, and the knowledge of how life will play out.

One thing's for sure — experiencing uncomfortable emotions and uncertainty is a natural part of life.

During challenging periods and uncertain times, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, it's important to take the time to sit with the uncertainty and focus on what can be controlled.

RELATED: 5 Strategies To Riding The Emotional Rollercoaster Of Uncertain Times

Acting impulsively to escape or deny the discomfort has the potential of causing additional detrimental consequences.

Intentionally shifting to adaptive and healthier strategies to deal with uncertainty teaches important life lessons that lead to a more peaceful and productive life.

When you implement the the four-step "L.E.A.N." framework, you create an awareness of the skills needed to move through uncertain times.

Here are 4 healthy ways to cope with uncertainty using the L.E.A.N. method.

1. Let it be.

It's okay to allow yourself time to be hurt or sad. Letting go of difficult situations is often too much to ask, so setting an intention to let things be and move past them is more manageable.

Holding on to negativity impedes your personal growth and ability to move forward. Wishing things were different will not make them so.

Moving through challenging situations and letting them be will require you to:

  • Stop blaming others: Take responsibility for your own happiness to start living the life you imagine and desire.
  • Make a conscious choice to free yourself: Set the intention to write a decision statement and the benefits you'll receive. Print, post, and read the statement frequently. Your subconscious mind and intentional behavior will manifest naturally and guide you to move through the challenge.
  • Trust that you will be okay: Think of past instances where you've felt a similar way and how you moved through it. Lean on friends and reach out to others you respect because, chances are, they've gone through similar experiences.
  • Create moments of quiet: Take time to pause and focus on the messages in the mess. Stillness allows your inner whispers to be heard and to create positive action.

You have a choice not to ruminate on things that are out of your control. When you let things be, you allow life to teach you so you don't remain stuck.

2. Empower.

You're capable of making decisions and handling various situations that come your way. It's essential to view yourself as a valuable human being.

Feeling like you have little power to change things is a mindset that undermines your physical and emotional mental health, which is extremely disempowering and keeps you stuck.

Managing your expectations, taking risks, and facing reality helps you see how your challenges are rarely as bad as you thought they would be.

When you find yourself in situations where you feel like you have little or no control, encourage yourself by:

  • Looking for the good that does exist: There's always a way to shift your mindset to see something positive in a situation.
  • Practicing pausing before reacting to others and taking their behaviors personally: Giving yourself a quiet moment enhances your ability to solve problems.
  • Focusing on staying in your own power by remaining calm even when others aren’t: Be mindful of taking deep breaths, being aware of your body language, and intentionally using your words wisely.
  • Asking for what you need and setting healthy boundaries:​ Remember, people treat you the way you allow them to.
  • Being mindful of not making requests of people who are incapable of responding appropriately: Know who you can trust.
  • Make yourself a priority: Do things and take time for yourself by establishing your goals and needs.

Recognizing your importance and ability to be a creator instead of a victim requires maintaining control over your thoughts. You have the power within yourself!

3. Accept.

Accepting the present without an intense desire to change can be extremely difficult.

When you make a conscious effort to stop fighting reality and stop resenting that certain aspects of your life aren’t the way you want them to be, you leave a space for acceptance to arise.

Pausing to explore what you're feeling, recognizing where you can act, and responding accordingly is where your control lies.

Setting the intention to achieve acceptance can be manifested in the following ways:

  • Notice when you're fighting or resisting reality: When you're feeling bitter, resentful, unhappy, or disillusioned, it's an opportune time to explore those feelings in a curious, non-judgmental way.
  • Make an internal commitment to stop fighting what is: Acceptance is not approval — simply acknowledging the reality of a situation. Turn your mind toward focusing on coping with the challenge. You have choices to move beyond the present moment. Ease your pain, so you can consider how to handle the reality before you.
  • Use your body as a guide: Focus on your breath and relaxing the muscles in your shoulders, face, and stomach. When you're stressed, your body becomes tense. Setting the intention to relax will allow you to think more clearly.
  • Encourage yourself to act as if you're accepting the situation: Fighting reality only intensifies your emotional reaction and creates suffering. You may experience pain, but suffering is optional. Acknowledging what is allows emotions to rise and help you move through a difficult period so you can develop a plan of action and move on.

​Learning to accept the reality of a situation can be overwhelming. The critical thing to remember is that acceptance takes practice and might feel uncomfortable and difficult at times.

Acknowledging reality — not denying it or fighting it — can create the opportunity for problem-solving and healing.

RELATED: How To Inspire Hope & Reduce Fear During Uncertain Times

4. Nourish.

Taking care of yourself is essential. Often, individuals let life happen to them without stopping to check in with themselves on a daily basis.

Making self-care a priority allows you to connect to your own sense of meaning and enhances strength and resiliency during challenging times.

Acting supportive and encouraging towards yourself requires focusing on these skills:

  • Find comfort in daily rituals to stay calm and positive: Meditation helps you relax, gain clarity, and provides you with the inner strength to move through a challenging situation. It gives your mind a rest and allows your thoughts and emotions to settle down naturally so you can process more purposefully.
  • Prioritize self-compassion: Practicing mindfulness gives you time to be in the present moment and provides you with the opportunity to sit with your pain, understand its source, and will help to create a space for you to face the truth of your experience.
  • Focus on what is good: Encourage yourself to look for the silver linings and the ways you can be grateful. When you take time to appreciate those things, your brain slows down negative thoughts, releasing serotonin (which gives you a mood boost) and dopamine (which encourages your brain to keep looking for things to appreciate).
  • Feed your body with wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats: Nutrition plays a critical role in your mental health, as well as helps you keep a healthy body weight and heart, reducing your risk of developing chronic diseases. By supplying your body with a healthy diet, you're giving your brain the fuel it needs for your cognitive processes and emotions.
  • Move as much as you can: People who exercise regularly get a sense of well-being and accomplishment. They feel more energetic throughout the day, sleep better at night, have sharper memories, and feel more relaxed and positive about themselves and their lives. Exercise also relieves stress, improves memory, and boosts your overall mood and health.
  • Practice intentional kindness or reach out to a close friend when you're feeling stressed or worried: Getting out of your head and having positive interactions with others releases oxytocin and helps to elevate your mood.

There are always opportunities to learn new skills, accept your feelings, tolerate distress, and to move forward despite not knowing what the future holds. In truth, you live with not knowing every single day.

It's important to allow yourself the space to feel your emotions, acknowledge the reality of them, ride through them, and to take action to discover how to handle them.

The answers will come as you walk through the process. Your journey will unfold, and you will be able to handle the realities that come your way.

Setting the intention of using the L.E.A.N.framework will enhance your ability to move through periods of uncertainty in a more effective and beneficial way.

You will thrive!

RELATED: 10 Benefits Of Telehealth Counseling During The Coronavirus

Jennifer Warren Medwin is a CDC Certified Divorce Coach, Supreme Court of Florida Family Mediator, and a Certified Marital Mediator. She has a private practice in Pinecrest, Miami called Seeking Empowerment: Clarity through Partnership.​

This article was originally published at Thrive Global. Reprinted with permission from the author.