“What are the certainties in life?”
If you’re like most people, this question may prompt you to ponder a list of things you’d like to consider certain — happiness, health, love, long life, etc. — only to realize that you can’t be certain of any of them.
You may then come to the conclusion that the only thing you can be certain of is death. And probably taxes (unless you have … how should we put this?… a “creative” tax accountant).
Not terribly uplifting, right? Maybe, or maybe not. It all depends on your view of uncertainty.
Fear, uncertainty, and doubt
We humans don’t like uncertainty. And why should we? Back in the days of the caveman, uncertainty was something to be feared. Not knowing where your next meal was coming from, or where the tiger was hiding, or whether said tiger was going to attack the leader of your clan: those uncertainties could mean life or death. So we’ve been “programmed,” so to speak, to dislike all things uncertain.
In our modern world, we face very few actual threats in our day-to-day lives. However, our brains don’t seem to know that, do they? So we look for, and even crave, certainty, with varying results:
- At times, we feel we have certainty: Bill told me he would have his part of the project done on time.
- During other times, we aren’t sure, but we live with the uncertainty anyway: Bill was late last time, but that’s because his mother was ill. I’m sure he’ll make the deadline this time.
- Sometimes, uncertainty creates a level of fear and doubt that overtakes us: What if Bill doesn’t make the deadline? My ability to finish this project depends upon his completing his work on time. What if I don’t get it done? Then if management decides to lay people off, I might be top of the list.
When we are uncertain, we begin to have doubts about what will happen. If those doubts linger long enough, we begin to feel afraid. Oftentimes, we’ll do whatever it takes to make the fear go away. What’s problematic, however, is that most of the time the very things we do to make ourselves feel better perpetuate the cycle of fear, uncertainty, and doubt.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Our workshops help put uncertainty to work for you
Whether you are facing uncertainty in your job, in treatment for an anxiety disorder, or in everyday life, you can learn how to put uncertainty to work for you, as well as how to motivate yourself to make choices that keep you not in fear, but rather in the driver’s seat.
We can show you how.
Learn how our workshops, including our next event, can empower you to thrive through uncertainty:
Jeff is perhaps known for his two books on uncertainty, When in Doubt, Make Belief and Rewind, Replay, Repeat, and his longtime work as a radio news anchor in San Francisco. He is also the founder of The Adversity 2 Advocacy Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and fostering the power of turning personal challenges into service to others with similar challenges.
After more than fifteen years in sales and marketing, Shala went back to school to learn how to help others take back their lives from anxiety-based mental health challenges. She is now an cognitive behavioral therapist and counselor specializing in the treatment of OCD and anxiety disorders in Atlanta. Shala co-founded the non-profit OCD Georgia and is the author of the forthcoming book based on her IOCDF 2013 keynote, Is Fred in the Refrigerator?