This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more info.

accepting uncertainty

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 178 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. Today's question is about accepting uncertainty.

I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino reminding you before we begin that if you have a question you would like help with on the show, we welcome you to email it to us at advice AT oldpodcast.com

Very happy to have you all here with me today to welcome with open arms a question that I don’t think any of us are strangers to. Uncertainty is on the table today. Our asker is working a lot on making decisions in spite of uncertainty as she tries to get more comfortable with it, but she’s not progressing as quickly as she’d like to. Well, let’s see what we can do about that. Let’s hear her question and try to help her out. Here it is…

QUESTION: “I'm a 20-year-old college student, and it's definitely uncertainty that’s troubling me. I've gotten a much better hold on letting go of what I can't control and remaining level-headed at unexpected turns of events. But despite learning to embrace it, I'm still not satisfied with how big of a role uncertainty plays in influencing my actions.”

Listen to Greg narrate this post on accepting uncertainty in Episode 178 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

Accepting Uncertainty

All right, gotcha. Good question; a question that, rest assured, is shared by many – especially right now. Why, you ask? Well let’s list off all the things there are to be uncertain about, and I’m sorry in advance if this makes you queasy or want to hate me.

We have the coronavirus. We have climate change. We have political unrest.

We have riots. We have a farming and meat industry that’s unsustainable. We don’t have enough resources to accommodate for the rate the population is growing at. We have a widening wealth gap. We have robots that are taking over, I guess?

We don’t know where to get our energy from anymore. We have, oh, yearly occasions on which the Mayans seemed to think that the world will end. We have any number of natural disasters depending on where you live. We have an alarming unemployment rate.

The list goes on, but it’s only a ten minute show.

Listen to TK Coleman's thoughts on accepting uncertainty in Episode 1822 of the podcast Optimal Living Daily.

Are We All Doomed?

Will all of these things cause us to meet our doom? No. Are they all as horrible as they’re made out to be? Highly doubtful.

But that doesn’t matter, because enough fearful and conflicting rhetoric surrounds them that there’s always a high number of very convincing people to tell us that we’re all going to die tomorrow.

So that’s the world. And then there’s you.

Are you going to get a good job? Are you even going to get the right type of education and college experience with how schools are affected right now? Are you going to keep in touch with your college friends after you graduate?

How are those student loans going to get paid off? Can you even walk alone from your dorm to the bar down the street?

And your list goes on and on as well, but you don’t need me to fill in the blanks.

Listen to Allison's thoughts on accepting uncertainty in Episode 1859 of the podcast Optimal Living Daily.

Challenge: Make a List of Certainty

Amidst this whole storm of things to be concerned about, I challenge you to come up with anything that is certain.

Spoiler alert: if you make an honest effort at that, you’ll come up with nothing.

I’m reminded of a really intriguing study that was done in Britain about uncertainty. Researchers studied stress levels in two groups of people. The first group knew that they were about to get an electric shock. The second group were told that they had a 50% chance of getting an electric shock. Guess who remained calmer and more composed? The first group. Why? Because they didn’t have uncertainty.

Accepting Uncertainty: Change Will Happen

You already know this, but I’ll tell you once more so as to reaffirm it: change is going to happen. There is no way around it. We don’t know when, what it’ll affect or how it’ll happen.

But everything you know right now will go through one variation of change or another. There’s no need to be a part of the group who isn’t sure of whether or not the shock is coming. Find calm in knowing that it is.

The good news, however (and I know this episode has been nothing but good news so far), is that life changes are not always going to have the same detriments of a painful electric shock.

On the other side of uncertainty are changes that you deem to be bad and changes that you deem to be good. Key word: “deem.”

The question is, how can you adjust your mentality to interpret as much as good as possible in ensuing changes? How can you make just as much time for all of the good possibilities that change has to offer? They are not in short supply.

Listen to Harry's thoughts on financial adulting in Episode 1475 of the podcast Optimal Finance Daily.

On The Cusp of Adulthood

Fixating on the way that even initially painful changes can go right is harder to grasp at 20 than it is when you’re older, because you’re not yet familiar with what change looks like in an adult setting.

Please don’t take that as belittling, it’s just that you’re on the cusp of adulthood right now, and thus can’t expect yourself to be an expert on what changes will feel like as an adult any more than middle-aged people can be experts on what changes will feel like when they’re elderly. You learn as you go.

But you can get a jumpstart by looking at those who are older than you and paying attention to how they’ve navigated the same changes that you’ll be going through, because it’s extraordinarily rare that you’ll ever experience a change or period of uncertainty that no one else has.

Are there not countless examples of people who have endured the same uncertainties as you and, due to their resilience, ended up just fine, if not better than before?

Think about this. What else would be the case for all the older people that you admire? Surely your admiration for them wouldn’t be as strong if they got to where they are from simply lucking out on changes their entire adult lives.

Accepting Uncertainty: Conclusion

If you want certainty in times of uncertainty, look to what you can control. There are a host of outer things you can control which would numb the pain – such as a having a daily routine in place.

But most importantly, it’s your mentality that you can control. Your mentality allows you to acknowledge that the only constant (and therefore the only certainty) is change.

That means that the only certainty is indeed uncertainty. Your mentality allows you to embrace this, welcome it with open arms, see it as a part of life and look to extract opportunities from it.

This is your only defense not against uncertainty itself, because there’s no stopping that, but against the pain derived from uncertainty. It’ll get easier with age, but until that happens, you have all the tools you need to make the most of uncertainty.

It’s ok if you’re dissatisfied with how uncertainty influences your actions, that’s where you’re at.

Move forward by creating better responses not only to the results of those actions you take, but to the results that end up in your lap anyway.

And that brings us to the end, my friends. I’m not sure this episode was full of any sage advice on my part (not like there ever is), but sometimes what we need is just another reminder of what we already know, yet have a hard time living by.

Either way, asker, thank you for sending this in and I hope that yet another rep of hearing the unbending truth about uncertainty has helped you lean into it a little bit more and made you more comfortable in navigating it. Very proud of you for confronting this question so fiercely and your determination to surrender to the truth of it.

We are done for now though so thanks for being here today everyone and for your continued support. I’ll be back with you again to wrap the week up on the Friday show, so be sure to stop back in. Until then.

Listen to Greg narrate this post on accepting uncertainty in Episode 178 of the podcast Optimal Living Advice.

mm

Greg Audino

Greg Audino is a Rhode Island-born certified life coach, actor, and graduate of Goucher College. He is the host of the mental health podcast Optimal Living Advice and narrates dating, marriage, and parenting content over at Optimal Relationships Daily.
Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on minimalism tips for family members. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Join my weekly newsletter for life tips, quotes, and free tools to optimize your life (and make my day)!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Enter your email to get our free Inspiration File on minimizing your wardrobe. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on decluttering sentimental items. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on getting started with minimalism. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter paper. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter books. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to help kids learn to declutter their toys. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on the bare minimum of items you need when moving. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on why financial literacy is important. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on overcoming money fears. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Enter your email to get our free PDF debt payoff tracker. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on maintaining your level of motivation. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on what to do after a deep tissue massage. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to counter sitting at a computer all day. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to stick to your budget. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on getting over a breakup. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Enter your email to get our free PDF with health and fitness quotes from Optimal Health Daily episodes. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Enter your email to get our free PDF with tips on how to spot -- and get out of -- a toxic relationship. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration, quotes, life tips, and more!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

A Brand New You

Join our weekly newsletter for life tips, quotes, and productivity tools to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

OLD Podcast: Library

OLD Podcast: Library

Enter your email to get your password to access our handy library. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Personal Finances

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Personal Finances

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on improving your personal finances. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Journaling Worksheet - PDF

Journaling Worksheet - PDF

Enter your email to get a sample of our journaling worksheet PDF with quotes and templates based on Optimal Living Daily episodes. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Improve Your Health and Fitness

5-Day Email Course - Improve Your Health and Fitness

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on improving your health and fitness. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!