HP Lovecraft, one of the greatest writers of horror literature, once wrote: “The strongest and oldest feeling of the human soul is fear, and the greatest fear is that of the unknown."
Our brains are extremely vulnerable to uncertainty.
The inability to tolerate it is a central aspect of anxiety and panic attacks and it is hypothesized that the fear of the unknown is the founding fear of human experience, the one that gives rise to all others. It is no coincidence that the ability to navigate in times of uncertainty is the salient feature of a resilient mind.
In business and life, living your dreams demands bold actions and a leap of faith in the face of uncertainty. This further leads to fear, stress, and anxiety. Hence, business owners need to know how to use this to their advantage.
What is it like to be stressed & anxious while facing uncertainty?
Genius always starts with a question, not an answer. Eliminate the question & you eliminate the possibility of having a genius. For most of us, living in question always hurts. It causes anxiety, fear, suffering & pain (all negative emotions). And we don't like pain & hence we do everything to snuff it out. But to create something extraordinary from nothing requires us to learn how to harness & ride rather than hunt & kill the butterflies that live in our gut.
Do you think uncertainty & stress is GOOD?
You must be thinking I am crazy to even think about stress, anxiety & uncertainty in a positive aspect. But here is the exciting thing - as per many studies, whenever you experience stress & when you change your mind about stress (think about it positively), you can change your body's response to stress.
Try telling yourself: This is my body helping me rise to this challenge ahead of me & when we view stress in this way, your body believes you & your stress response becomes healthier.
Another good thing about stress is that it makes you social. The biological response to stress tells you to share with someone how you feel instead of bottling it up. When you share your pain, experience, or feel heard, this releases a hormone called oxytocin, making you more empathetic, compassionate, & caring. It is pumped as a part of our body's stress response.
Oxytocin also helps heart cells regenerate & strengthens your heart. The cool thing about all of these physical benefits of oxytocin is further enhanced by social contact & support. So when you reach out to others under stress for help or support, you release more oxytocin, your stress response becomes healthier & you recover faster from your own stress or anxiety.
Our stress response definitely has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience & that mechanism is human connection, making it extremely useful for us to communicate while we are stressed.
The harmful effects of stress are not inevitable, but how you think & how you act can transform your experience in managing your stress. When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create a biology of courage & when you choose to connect with others under stress, you choose to build resilience. So clearly, when uncertainty brings you stress, all it takes is to transform your experience to stress to be courageous & resilient.
There are various ways of battling the uncertainty, the stress related to it & experience its rewards -
- Explore your lifestyle ritual. Look at your life to see if you can create a routine around the mundane, day-to-day activities.
- Identify your creative orientation. Figuring out what creative direction fills you up & which empties you out is extremely necessary.
- Ritualize your creation time, work bursts & therapeutic pauses. During this time, limit your breaks to not more than 45 to 90 minutes.
- Refuel your brain between breaks. Exercise, meditate, nap, walk, eat - do whatever helps refuel.
- Make changes to your workflow that unlock buried creative potential.
- Build supportive groups that can supercharge & humanize the process
- Develop a set of personal practice & mindset shifts that let you not just tolerate, but invite and even amplify uncertainty as a catalyst
- Staying positive doesn't mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days, you know that better ones are coming.
- Be conscious of the type of content consumption. If you are fearful, anxious, it's always better to indulge in motivational podcasts or indulge in inspiring movies. This certainly helps you feel better & shifts your focus from negative thoughts to a ray of hope.
What really disturbs me about uncertainty is the fact that you cannot be in control of situations. Isn't that so? But if you stop and think for a moment, you will remember that most of the most beautiful and incredible experiences in your life have occurred beyond your control. Indeed, the very fact that they were so unexpected and surprising made them unforgettable!
Open yourself to various possibilities. You cannot predict with absolute precision the scenarios that will happen following your decision, consider various possibilities if this makes you feel more comfortable. Don't be rigid in your choices and always keep the awareness that uncertainty is around the corner.
Be flexible, only then you can ride the change and uncertainty will never scare you like it used to!