We, as humans, have a tough task of balancing our conflicting needs for stability and novelty. This tension can lead us to feel perpetually uncertain, unsettled, and unmotivated. You can face uncertainty in your life with love for yourself and for those around you. The search for certainty allows your doubts to run the show, while an approach of curiosity can help you find more balance.
Let go of timelines
We get a lot of advice about timelines. They are cultural, personal, imposed, and ultimately not a tool that serves us in moments of uncertainty. If you are operating on a strict timeline, chances are you have taken an approach that ignores your humanity. Rushing yourself out of uncertainty won’t rush you into where you need to be. Rather, it will rush you to take steps you haven’t been able to think and feel through. In order to live with uncertainty, we have to abandon some of the timelines that we have set or that have been set for us. Making a decision by a certain date won’t ensure you will be ready to make it at that time. There is no rush in the big things. You won’t miss what is meant for you unless you are too preoccupied with setting up a timeline that doesn’t fit your current circumstances.
Let go of control
When the big parts of life feel as though they are in flux, you might feel a desire to control whatever parts you can. Getting to more solid footing isn’t about control. It is about letting things unfold how they will. The more you aim to control an outcome, the more you will face painful reminders that you simply aren’t in control. The world is too chaotic. Love yourself through the chaos by carefully exercising agency where you can and where you have the energy to do so. Take breaks from overanalyzing the uncertainty and just let things be as they are until the dust settles a bit and you can see more clearly.
Remember, there isn’t always an answer
From animal sounds, to times tables, to college theses, we spend much of our early lives looking for answers. This training can make the search for rigid thinking and answer seeking appealing when things feel uncertain. However, in times of uncertainty, there aren’t always answers. There is no right answer to questions about where you should be, who you should be with, and how you should be doing things. There are choices you make, and many of those best choices are made through action guided by intuition. There is no “right” way to spend the days, years, decades. Love yourself thoroughly by letting go of the quest for answers to ease the uncertainty. Allow your thinking to be flexible, open, and frequent.
Reframe your approach
If you find yourself butting your head against walls of uncertainty, it can be helpful to reframe your approach. Ground yourself in the present and find the things you love about where you have gotten thus far. Use uncertainty as an exercise of looking around at your life and finding what does and doesn’t work for you. Approach uncertainty not as a failure of certainty or decisiveness, but rather as an opportunity to learn more about yourself. If you feel unsettled, it might be because you are on the search for what is going wrong, as opposed to what is going right. As much as you can, look at the benefits of not knowing. Uncertainty is a beautiful classroom with no answers and a surplus of growth and self-knowledge.
Dwell on what could go right
To that end, when you are exploring uncertainty, you can show yourself love by dwelling on what could go right. This isn’t a plug for toxic positive thinking, rather, it is a genuine reminder that no matter where you are, there are opportunities for things to go well. Tell yourself the stories of what might work out. Tell yourself stories of what you are capable of. If you are going to be preoccupied with the unknown, let your preoccupation be about the great things that often come from internal and external chaos.
Find stability where you can
We are not the decision makers of so many of the things that make up a life. We don’t get to choose which jobs will accept us, which talents come more naturally to us, or who wants to be in our lives. So, when the big things are unclear, find rest and stability where you can. Spend time with the people who ground you. Set a routine that works for this season of your life. Lean into the things and communities that neutralize the many moving parts around you. Stability can be a resting place for love.
Make choices that can move you towards where you want to be
When you don’t know where you want to go or what you want to do, it can help to make choices that move you in the direction you think you want to be. We can’t know until we try. Thinking about what something might be like provides much less clarity than making purposeful steps in the direction you choose. Steps in any direction are better than sitting and waiting until a moment of perceived certainty arrives. Movement in the direction you want to go, even if you aren’t sure, will get you out of a place where it feels like things are happening to you. You will instead be able to feel like you are the one making things happen. Then, if you find that wasn’t the right direction, you will be practiced in switching directions. Movement will help you to get unstuck. This is an act of courage and an act of love.