Accepting Uncertainty


Practice owner and Occupational Therapist - Jonathon Somers takes a few minutes to discuss uncertainty and how this can produce unnecessary worry.

Do you hate uncertainty, unpredictability and doubt?

Do you perceive worrying to be a useful way to prepare yourself for the worst - getting you ready for anything that might happen. And because you worry this reduces your feelings of uncertainty, so you continue to worry and worry and worry.... In other words, worrying helps you believe that you have more control and certainty in life.

But in reality has your worrying ever made anything more certain or predictable and does worrying really change the outcome?

Unfortunately life is still as uncertain and unpredictable as it ever was. This is exacerbated by the forever changing covid-19 pandemic. So ask yourself is worrying about uncertainty really worth it?

There are two main strategies for learning how to accept uncertainty and in so reduce worry.

1. Challenge the uncertainty. Ask yourself and write down your responses

  • Is it possible to be certain about everything in life?
  • What are the advantages or requiring certainty vs the disadvantages?
  • How likely is it that the things you predict will happen?
  • Can you live with some of the uncertainties of life?
  • Ask a friend how they cope with uncertainty, see if you can learn a few tips from them.

2. Acceptance and Mindfulness. When you can’t handle the uncertainty, your mind tends to be focused on the future. An antidote to this style of thinking is to practice becoming more present focused and accepting of your current experience. That is, more mindful.

I will discuss what "being mindful" means in another article. But the three basic steps to follow are:

  • Being aware of what you are currently thinking and what you are feeling in your body. In that exact moment.
  • Letting go of the need for a quick fix, by saying something to help you let go of the need for certainty; perhaps like “this is only a need for certainty thought, just let it go.”
  • Being non-judgemental. By bringing a gentle curiosity to the thoughts that come into your mind without judging or trying to change them. Then return to the present and focus your attention fully on the sensations you can feel now.