4 Easy Ways To Manage Uncertainty: The Uncertainty Factor- A curse or a blessing?

Each day our life is shaped by forces we cannot control . Life is uncertain.

We, by human trait, feel weak and dis-empowered when presented with uncertainty about anything in our life. Be it regarding our job, our love life or family life, our health or just anything that holds importance to us. We have become so used to plan each step we take in life, weighing the pros and cons of every decision we make either consciously or subconsciously.
When we realize that something is not in our control, we feel mentally lost. It has been shown that the first thoughts that come to our mind are the negative thoughts. “What if I don’t get this job? “What will the doctor say tomorrow?”

The human brain, it has been written, is an “anticipation machine, and ‘making future’ is the most important thing it does.” says Daniel Gilbert in his book, “Stumbling on happiness”.

“The ability to use past experiences and information about our current state and environment to predict the future allows us to increase the odds of desired outcomes, while avoiding or bracing ourselves for future adversity. This ability is directly related to our level of certainty regarding future events – how likely they are, when they will occur, and what they will be like. Uncertainty diminishes how efficiently and effectively we can prepare for the future, and thus contributes to anxiety”. -D Gilbert 2009 

Uncertainty causes unnecessary anxiety and worry which can have negative health impacts.
Our body sets forth fear responses (e.g., freezing, startle, heart rate and blood pressure changes, and increased vigilance) as an adaptive mechanism of response elicited during danger to facilitate appropriate defensive responses that can reduce danger or injury (e.g., escape and avoidance).

Many a times, we get caught in the “worry cycle” and find ourselves in a web of obsessing, overthinking, and over analyzing.

Our fear response gets amplified when there is uncertainty.


“There is a fine line between normal fear and pathological anxiety.

Uncertainty makes it difficult to prepare properly for future events: one must strike a balance between preparatory actions that are more efficient (but potentially inadequate) and those that are more effective (but potentially unnecessary).”- Rosen JB, Schulkin J

Uncertainty threat assessment: “cold cognition” vs. “hot cognition/subjective feelings”
Put simply, hot cognition is cognition colored by emotion. Cold cognition, implies cognitive processing of information that is independent of emotional involvement.

Individuals displaying more judgement bias (elevated estimates of the cost or probability of negative impact events) and hot cognition behavioral pattern are more prone to get affected by anxiety due to any kind of uncertainty in their lives.


So what can you do?

We can either demonstrate an adaptive or a maladaptive response to the threat of uncertainty.

A maladaptive response being showing exaggerated unnecessary responses to the uncertain situation that you are handling leading to your spiraling down the path of fear and self-doubts.

An adaptive response to uncertainty is –


Essentially, Adaptive Action Planning consists of three steps.

What? – You gather pertinent data to get the “lay of the land” first and evaluate your current status at that moment. Think about why it is creating worries for you.

So what? You make your own observations based on your experience and predictions.With a positive mind and without clouding your judgement with fear, you think of the impact these prediction patterns can have on the “picture” of your current status and begin to explore and plan next steps for taking action ,within reasonable reason ,that can create circumstances for you which are more adaptable, more sustainable and more fit for you. Ask yourself some questions “Should I think about this uncertainty factor? Is it worth it? Is thinking about it really affecting me in a negative way?”

Now what? -You take action and assess the possible consequences. Follow up on it positively without increasing anxiety and without any negative thoughts. It may be a simple enough task for you to achieve or it may be not. At that stage, you may need help.

Often, we get caught in the “worry cycle” and find ourselves in a web of obsessing, overthinking, over analyzing which is difficult to break occasionally.

Instead from running from F.E.A.R: False Evidence Appearing Real or Forget Everything And Run, we should take steps to deal with our uncertainty issue.

The key to handle uncertainty is

1) Try to focus on things that you can control and stop worrying about the rest.

2) Try to attain inner mind control by repeating to your subconscious mind that you are not going to let the fear of uncertainty dominate your mind.

3) Try to live your life as if you never had this uncertainty in your life.

4) When all else fails, then breathe and say Hakuna matata!

Convince your brain that no matter what we do uncertainty is a natural part of life. Change is the constant today.

Well ,all above being said, there are some beneficial aspects to uncertainty as well!

“We only learn when there is uncertainty, and that is a good thing,” said Daeyeol Lee, Yale’s Dorys McConnell Duberg Professor of Neuroscience and professor of psychology and psychiatry. “We really don’t want to be learning all the time.”
We may crave stability in life, but the brain benefits from volatility, according to a Yale University study on cognition that shows how uncertainty boosts learning.”

Whenever things don’t turn out the way we assumed, we pause and learn subconsciously,we incorporate that new information so that we can make a better prediction later.

We now know that while it is true that certainty can prompt people to act, it is often uncertainty that prompts people to think.

 So now it is up to us to decide whether uncertainty is a curse or blessing in disguise.

Happy thinking!! See you soon on your road to happiness:)

Your road to happiness–>


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