Sydney Gideon, LSW

With access to the internet, a world of experts, and the ability to contact others at anytime, our tolerance for managing uncertainty has declined. Why be okay with uncertainty when we have all these ways to research and get others opinions? Certainly we can find some certainty in the uncertain right? Unfortunately, when something is uncertain it indicates the probabilities of different outcomes are unknown. The unknown can be very daunting causing individuals to walk away from opportunities or experiences for fear of failure. This pattern of avoiding challenges with uncertain outcomes is a form of self-sabotaging. This comes from a lack of confidence in our skills and abilities to tackle obstacles leading to the decision to simply not try at all. In order to prevent uncertainty from holding you back, it’s necessary to break unproductive patterns of behavior while managing emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Discussed below are ways to develop this mental toughness.

The way we’re programmed, our brains have an innate fear of uncertainty. The good news is there’s ways to overcome this programming. The more information we’re able to collect, the more rational decisions we’re able to make. When we don’t have enough information for our thinking brain to go through, our emotional brain takes control leading to feelings of anxiety and fear. In order to overcome the unpredictability of our world today, it’s necessary to engage our rational brain to regain control of our emotions. To do this, the first step is to identify the fearful thoughts you may be having and then write them down. Seeing your fears in front of you can help bring clarity to the situation. The next step is acknowledging these fears come from a primitive part of your emotional brain trying to take over. Then, engage your rational brain to begin generating positive thoughts in order to overcome the negative emotions and move forward.

Often times we make the mistake of taking our memories as factual information. Contrary to what you may believe, memories aren’t stored exactly how they happened. Instead, they’re stored in a way that makes the most sense to us leading different people to remember the same event very differently. Once a thought is solidified, our brain holds on to information that confirms this thought and dismisses information that is contrary to it. In the past, if we were unable to complete a task or had memories confirming low self-esteem, we will continue to hold onto information confirming self-limiting thoughts. Educating ourselves on how confirmation bias works allows us to recognize that the way we remember things is not always accurate. This can give you the confidence to begin to create new experiences aligning with a more positive self-concept.

“Researcher Daniel Kahneman describes how we can think fast by using stereotypes, rules of thumb and jumping to conclusions.” This type of thinking can be incredibly efficient allowing time for us to think about other things. However, in particular situations this type of thinking can lead to inaccurate conclusions. If we become so ingrained in a certain way of thinking, it’s possible we can begin to defy logic in order to maintain our belief system. This can be very detrimental when the belief system is self-limiting about ourselves. It is necessary to be aware of fast thinking that can lead to self-sabotaging behaviors.

The reality is, almost every decision we have to make comes with uncertainty. Unfortunately, we don’t have the option to avoid any decision making at all so it’s crucial to focus on what we feel is the top priority. The most difficult decisions require referring back to our core values and beliefs in order to gain clarity. While social media, television, and the news can serve great purposes, they also allow us access to the values and beliefs of countless other individuals. Taking the time to look inward to truly evaluate your own personal feelings is essential in making big decisions. Instead of picking the easiest route, determine which decision would bring you closer to your goal and make you feel the most grounded. The choice that allows you to feel most like yourself and aligns with your core values may not be the easiest decision but it’s the right one.

If you’ve found yourself struggling with confidence or uncertainty it may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!