4 Suggestions for Handling Change and Uncertainty
Philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.” This fact about life on our planet can sometimes feel scary; things are always changing and nothing is ever certain or guaranteed. Ironically, the only thing that is certain is that everything will change! In order to be fearless in the face of change and uncertainty, it’s important to become comfortable with the understanding that everything in life is in a continuous state of change. It is how we respond to and adapt to changes in our lives that can help us to learn and to grow. Every single day that we are blessed to experience provides an opportunity to learn and to make a positive impact through every situation and every change that we’re faced with.
Feeling more comfortable with change and uncertainty can help you become more fearless and be more prepared for whatever life may bring your way. This is due in large part because, once you’re comfortable with change, you’ll be less fearful of what’s coming next. And when you get to the place where you are comfortable with the uncertainty, you are capable of reaching your fullest potential.
Here are 4 tips that can help you to welcome and embrace change rather than fearing it (or attempting to avoid it).
1) Live In The Present Moment
Whether we like to admit it or not, mostly everything in life is out of our control. The only sense of “control” that we really have is how we think about, react to and respond to every moment in our life. And to fully experience this moment, it’s important to remain fully present in it. Remind yourself that the moment you’re currently experiencing is inevitably going to change (and end). Being aware of this will help you to create an appreciation of fully living right now. Every moment that we experience can teach us something valuable, if we’re paying close enough attention. Having awareness for and being mindful of the now can allow us to more easily handle the changes that consistently occur in our lives. Rather than spending time thinking or worrying about what’s next, practice being mindful about what is happening in this moment. The next moment will come and things will be different, and you’ll handle that moment when it arrives. (Worrying about the future doesn’t do any good, because we’re not there yet!)
Practicing meditation techniques can help you to remain focused on the moment and feel more prepared to “go with the flow” of change when it does arrive. You can start by closing your eyes for a few moments and simply focus on your breathing.
2) Feel Excited about Change, Not Nervous
Change comes in many different forms. Whether it’s a new experience, an unexpected event that occurs, or some sort of challenge that you’re facing, feelings of nervousness can come with any change that we’re faced with. Often the subject of “change” is simply avoided entirely. If you find yourself feeling nervous about change, make a decision to feel excited about it instead of feeling scared. (Again, we have a certain degree of control over our thoughts about and how we respond to a situation.) According to research, it can be beneficial to tell yourself that you’re excited rather than thinking that you’re nervous, because, physiologically speaking, the body responds similarly to feelings of nervousness and feelings of excitement.
A fantastic article published in “The Atlantic” discusses this topic. An excerpt from the article reads: “…anxiety and excitement are both aroused emotions. In both, the heart beats faster, cortisol surges, and the body prepares for action. In other words, they’re ‘arousal congruent.’ The only difference is that excitement is a positive emotion‚ focused on all the ways something could go well.”
When dealing with a change in your life, there’s always a possibility for something good to happen, including during difficult times when a positive outcome is not entirely clear. For example, if you’ve faced a change involving a loss, remaining focused on what has been gained from that loss – such as valuable lessons or priceless memories and experiences – can be very helpful. Staying focused on the possibilities for something great to happen can help you to turn feelings of anxiety into feelings of excited motivation.
By choosing to feel excited rather than nervous you’ll be choosing to make the decision to be fearless. While change is inevitable, we can change the way we think about uncertainty in order to feel less afraid. Dr. Wayne Dyer said, “You’re only one thought away from changing your life.”
Decide to be excited, not afraid!
Nothing Will Change Unless YOU Change:
3) Trust Your Instincts
Change often includes having to make decisions and sometimes difficult ones. Each and every time that you’re faced with a change in life, it is important to pay attention to your instincts and to how you feel. Instincts rarely (if ever) let us down.
If you’re unsure of which path to take, for example, listen to what your heart is telling you. When you pay attention to how you’re feeling, you’ll likely receive the answer that you’re seeking.
I was faced with this type of dilemma after college when I needed to decide whether or not to make a career path change from working in the surf industry to pursuing a career as an actor in Hollywood. I felt lost and confused. I was nervous about switching into a different industry, but I was also eager to pursue my passion. Although it was scary to leave a more “stable” career path, I paid attention to how I was feeling at the time, and I went with what felt right. Have faith in what you feel is right for you and go with it. I write a lot more about this in my new book, An Aversion to the Definitive
4) Be Flexible
Flexibility is key. Be willing and able to be flexible enough to go with the flow when faced with a change and enjoy the journey. Motivational speaker T.D. Jakes said, “If you are flexible enough in life you can always keep moving forward.” And in an incredible speech, he also said, “If you are not flexible and adjustable, you can’t survive.” Evolutionary scientist Charles Darwin wrote, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
Learning to roll with the punches and being willing to be flexible to go along with changes in life will help to prepare you for whatever comes your way.
Life is unpredictable; everything and everyone in the world is in a constant state of change. If you choose to flow with the river of change instead of trying to fight against it, you’ll likely find that you can tackle any challenge that comes your way. You’re very strong; stronger than you may even realize.