Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.

Without uncertainty, we might never grow because we would never be pushed beyond our comfort zones.

Uncertainty makes us feel vulnerable and so we try and escape it any way that we can. Our brains perceive ambiguity as a threat and then try to protect us by lessening our ability to focus on anything other than certainty.

Research participants who were told that they had a 50% chance of receiving a painful electric shock felt far more anxious and agitated than participants who believed they were definitely going to receive the shock.

Many of us have experienced staying in an unhealthy relationship or an unsuitable job because the uncertainty of leaving those situations created more anxiety than the certainty of staying in those unhappy situations. Often, people do not end up following their true passions because it is seemingly impractical, or because there is a large amount of perceived uncertainty associated with following that path.

The brain’s natural negativity bias can also set us up for failure. Expectations can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we expect the worst, we often feel too afraid or close-minded to seize opportunities or respond to challenges with creativity.

It can be helpful for us to consider worst-case scenarios so that we can weigh risks and actively prevent disaster. But when we believe these stressful thoughts, we tend to react emotionally as though the worst case is already happening in real life, rather than just in our heads. We grieve for things that we haven’t actually lost, and react to events that are not actually happening. This makes us feel threatened, afraid, and unsafe when we are simply alone with our thoughts.

Instead of buying into every stressful thought, or worst case scenario we can actively imagine the best possible scenario. We can find silver linings to replace ruminations. This counters our natural tendency to overestimate risks and negative consequences.

Though evolution has wired our brains to resist uncertainty, we can never really know what the future will bring. “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is,” wrote mathematician John Allen Paulos. “Knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”

It is actually through embracing the uncertainty that we thrive. Our lives are greatly determined by what we do when we get uncertain.

If we fixate on “solving” problems, we tend to get tunnel-vision and we walk around with blinkers on, failing to see the possibilities. We can’t embrace a new uncertain future when we are fully attached to our old lives or an idea of how we think something should be. Without uncertainty, we might never grow because we would never be pushed beyond our comfort zones.

Step into the unknown.

There are no guarantees when we step into the unknown. But it is in these periods of discomfort that life’s most important adventures can arise. Research has shown that acceptance—particularly self-acceptance—is a counterintuitive secret to happiness. Acceptance is about meeting life where it is and moving forward from there.

Because acceptance allows us to see the reality of the situation in the present moment, it frees us up to move forward, rather than remaining paralyzed by uncertainty and fear. To practice acceptance, we surrender our resistance to a problematic situation, and also to our emotions about the situation.

Importantly, acceptance is not the same as resignation. Accepting a situation doesn’t mean that it will never get better. We don’t accept that things will stay the same forever; we only accept whatever is happening at the moment. We can work to make the situation better, while at the same time allowing the reality that right now, the circumstances are complicated. Maybe it will get better, maybe it won’t. Practicing acceptance in the face of difficulty is hard and it’s also the most effective way to move forward.

If you are finding accepting uncertainty challenging or finding it hard to move forwards please get in touch to find out how Solution Focused Hypnotherapy can help you.

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