When I was little I had a quirky way of dealing with uncertainty.
Every night, before bed, I’d pack all of my stuffed animals in a bag.
And in case of a fire, my plan was to grab my bag of animals, throw a bottle of laundry detergent through my bedroom window and escape to safety.
I can laugh at my crazy plan now but I am still in touch with the anxiety I felt every night in bed.
The truth is, uncertainty is everywhere. And it doesn’t matter your age every human being deals with the feeling.
Maybe your husband is an alcoholic. And you struggle with the uncertainty tied to whether or not he’ll stay sober.
Maybe your daughter gets pissed off whenever you enforce your boundaries. And when she gets upset you know it and uncertainty and fear swoop in.
Or you could be starting a new job after months of crippling anxiety. And your mind is flooded with a thousand “what if” scenarios that keep you awake at night.
Regardless of your situation, when uncertainty strikes we all look for ways to avoid the feeling.
But what if it’s not about avoiding the feeling? What if there’s a different way to deal with uncertainty that isn’t based on a quick fix?
Today, I’m sharing my Piñata approach to living comfortably with uncertainty.
Notice I didn’t say anything about being free from uncertainty. Remember I’m not talking about quick fixes. And I personally don’t buy into the idea that uncertainty is something we can rid ourselves of.
As John Allen Paulos says,
“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”
As always, thanks for reading and sharing.
See you next Tues.
The Piñata Approach
So, how does a Piñata work? It hangs above your head and you take a wack at it with a stick. If you hit it hard enough the thing busts open and candy of all sorts flys out.
Now, I want you to think of uncertainty as a Piñata. So there it is, hanging over your head when bang, it gets cracked open and instead of Reese’s and M&Ms flying out a whole mess of emotions and feelings fall flat on your head. Such as: fear, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, anger and guilt.
You see, when you break uncertainty down, it’s really just a mixed bag of emotions that busts you wide open.
Instead of taking them head on, why not set yourself up so that when uncertainty strikes you’re prepared to deal with just one emotion, at at time, to the best of your ability?
I wanted to share this idea with you because feeling the pain of uncertainty isn’t something that we can make go away. But I do believe it’s something that we can manage.
So, to help you better manage uncertainty, so that you can live your life, as fully as possible, despite the unknown, I wanted to share 3 ways you can bring the Piñata approach to life in your life.
#1 Practice Your Emotional Hygiene
You know what happens when you don’t floss or go to the dentist regularly. You get gingivitis and if left too long cavities can turn into root canals.
Well the same kind of thing can happen when you don’t practice emotional hygiene.
If left unattended or misunderstood, anger, depression, fear and guilt can create havoc in your life.
And when uncertainty strikes, those feelings only get magnified.
But when you practice emotional hygiene, it becomes easier to recognize which emotions need your attention. And the best way for you to deal with them.
How do you practice emotional hygiene?
By getting to know yourself. Making your emotional health a priority. By learning all that you can about the emotions that trip you up. And by having a plan that you can turn to when uncertainty strikes.
#2 Command Your Audience
Back in high school, I had a teacher that would stand in front of the class and not say a word.
While us students were laughing, talking and making loads of noise she would just stand there and wait for the silence to catch our attention and settle us down.
And it always worked. Her silence always brought calm to the room.
You can use the same tactic when the Piñata of uncertainty explodes.
When the fear, anger, doubt and anxiety start making all sorts of noise in your head, use silence to inspire calm.
Obviously, commanding your audience takes practice. And if silencing all that’s swirling around in your head becomes overwhelming, then bring your focus back to that one emotion that’s making the most noise.
Which brings me to this last point.
#3 Just Do The Next Indicated Thing
Look. Uncertainty is here to stay. As long as you’re alive and walking this planet, life will continue to present you with endless opportunities to feel uncertain.
That’s why, when it feels like life has busted you wide open like a Piñata, you need to slow down and just do the next indicated thing. Just deal with what’s right in front of you.
- You get up in the morning and brush your teeth
- You put the leash on your dog and go for a walk
- You empty the dishwasher one plate at a time
And that’s all you do. There’s no rush. There’s no race. You just do the next indicated thing.
By focusing on exactly what’s right in front of you, you train yourself to carry on with life despite uncertainty.
- Even if you don’t know if your husband will stay sober
- Even if you don’t know how your daughter will respond to your boundaries
- Even if you don’t know if the new job is going to work out
You show up. You pay the electric bill, you take out the trash and you read the next page in your book.
Keep it that simple and just do the next indicated thing.