By Lecia Grossman
Life sure has had its ups and downs and turn arounds for most every person this past year. And while living with uncertainty isn’t new, it sure feels like it has been more prominent than ever. Each person has their own way of keeping their mind and body healthy in uncertainty, and some of us are still really learning. (Yes, me!) While I like change, uncertainty is a different game. I like to plan for change and revel in the learning that comes with it. Uncertainty on the other hand often brings out my controlling nature, wanting to wrestle until I have the answer or “win.” Have you been feeling that way at all?
Depending on how we respond to situations in our mind, we know it affects our bodies. Our autonomic nervous system connects our brain to organs including liver, heart, lungs, sweat glands, and interior muscles of the eyes. We need to find ways to better self-regulate how we respond to situations so that what happens in the brain doesn’t work against our body’s health and wellness.
Now, I’m not a physical health practitioner like the amazing women at Nourish, but my work with people, through coaching, does help their body through how they tend to their thinking and how they show up in the world. There are many ways to train the brain through mindfulness practices and physical practices. I am not an expert at either of those (yet!), but my expertise is questions – questions to help you make choices so you can live a healthy purpose and values driven life. Living on point with what is truly important to us, impacts our health.
So, often times when we are in the midst of uncertainty we just think of what bad things might happen. We might be in a fear, concern, or survival mode. These feelings are real, and we want to choose a perspective that will help us stay “healthy” and present. While there are many ways to be with uncertainty, I’m going to share a few tips that may help you in your uncertainty. Try journaling with any of these tools to see if they might help you gain a more grounded mind and new way of being with uncertain situations.
What if…? (for a new perspective)
Consider the opportunities for growth, for newness, and the benefits from the uncertain situation. This can bring new perspectives that are also true about the current situation and help you be more positive in the midst of uncertainty.
- What if I learned…something new, about my son, about my body, etc.?
- What if I tried…something new, a different approach, a morning practice, etc.?
- What if I…XXXXXX?
Increasing Your Span of Control (for getting into action)
In uncertainty there are lots of worries or concerns we might have. Try this:
- Write down each of the concerns or worries
- Write bullets under each one about all the parts or elements of the worry.
- Review the list and see which one you might take one small action to take.
Going through this process helps you see small places where you can make choices and be proactive to shift your mindset from helplessness to a bit more “control.” We often have these big worries or concerns, and by breaking it down into smaller chunks, we start to see places where we can do something which increases our positivity and empowers us.
Known, Unknown, Unknowable (for releasing the mind churn)
Whatever your uncertain situation is, write down every question you have about it – one per sticky note. And I mean ALL of them, no matter how small or large. Getting all the questions out of your brain and on to paper might seem like it would create more anxiety, but it actually makes them more concrete and now you can actually look at them and do something with them. They are there, in black and white, for you to look at. The next step is to bucket them into the three categories:
- Known – these are questions that you actually have answers to, you’ve just left the question swirling in your head for one reason or another (write the answer on the sticky note)
- Unknown – these are questions that you don’t currently have the answer for, but if you did a little research or talked to someone, you could get some answers
- Unknowable – these are those questions that there are no answers for….yet. By having this list, you can actually see the uncertainty, and you can check in on a regular basis to see if there is new information or answers to them. Or you might take a couple and break them down to see if there are answers to smaller parts of the question.
This tool is also very helpful with a team/group/family that are going through a change. I send a big thanks to Human Systems Dynamic Institute for this tool I learned while working with them!
I hope these little tools help you gain new ways of being with uncertainty to reduce the stress that comes with it. May the tending to your brain bring health to your body.