Change and uncertainty are major stresses for most of us, and two things we’re bound to experience plenty of in this life. So, stop getting all freaked out when the unexpected occurs and shift your focus to managing the uncertainty and thriving despite it. Come on now, you can do this.
Start by changing how you think about the surprises – both good and bad – that come up in life. Here are five ways to do it.
1. Imagine the good, rather than the bad. If you’re going to create thoughts about the future, (and you know you are) pick the ones that feel best instead of dwelling on the negative. For example, you could go from poor to rich, instead of rich to poor. The big change you’re worrying about could mean a shift from illness to wellness. If change is inevitable – and we know that it is — why not imagine the best outcomes, instead of the worst?
2. Know that you are enough to deal with it. Start with the premise that you can handle whatever comes, even if you have to fake it. We all face circumstances that we doubt we can handle – then we do. When the pressure is on, you will find the people, resources, information, help, that you need to cope.You. Will. People are resilient. It’s built in. Part of our evolutionary nature. Start living from this perspective even if you have to pretend for awhile. I call this the faith factor. Find faith in yourself, faith in a higher power, faith that the sun will come up in the a.m., faith that you will wake up to go again, faith that everything happens for a reason. I don’t care what your faith is rooted in, but believing in something bigger – even if it seems illogical — will give you the courage to move forward.
3. Help somebody else. When we are experiencing a ton of changes or feeling uncertain about the future we make it all about us. We become obsessive. Ruminating on what-if thoughts rooted in all that could go wrong. Get over yourself and reach out to someone else. It’s tough to worry about your own troubles when you’re helping someone else. Go sweep the neighbor’s porch. Serve meals to the homeless. Volunteer at the school. Deliver meals on wheels. Get up. Get out. Get going. You’ll be surprised how your own fears drop away when you are engaged in making a difference in the world.
4. Become present to what is. It’s impossible to be freaking out about the future when you are present in the now. When you are feeling overwhelmed by thoughts of change and uncertainty, find a quiet place and sit still for at least five minutes. Notice your breath. Feel the tension in your body. Hear your heart beat. Anxiety is caused by our thoughts. When your thoughts are in the now – on what is happening right now – rather than some story about it, you’ll feel better. The easiest way to get there is to notice your body and how it’s feeling. Every time your mind strays into unhelpful thoughts, gently pull it back to the physical sensations of the moment.
5. Be grateful for this moment. We get so caught up in worrying about things that haven’t happened yet – and probably aren’t going to happen ever – that we miss out on what already is. When you are fretting about what might be, you are missing an opportunity to be grateful for all that you have. Stop right now and for two minutes, express all that you’re grateful for: “I am grateful for __________.”
Whew, now, doesn’t that feel better? Gratitude has powerful health benefits – including higher immune function, lower blood pressure, and greater well-being – and it helps shift the mind from obsessive rumination into a place of abundance.
These in-the-moment strategies can make the uncertainties of life a lot easier to deal with, in fact you might even have a little more fun with the surprises that show up.
When you can see change as a catalyst for opportunity it becomes interesting and inspiring rather than frightening and frustrating.
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