Hello everybody, welcome to episode 129 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. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino, very glad to be back here with you for another edition of OLA. We’re going to take a look at a question today that I think really sums up the uncertainty many of us are facing right now regarding work and other facets of life. I think this question will be highly applicable to us all, so thanks in advance to the listener who sent it in. Here it is…
QUESTION: “These days I'm struggling with anxiety that emerges due to uncertainty. I graduated in 2020 & had a job placement offer. Due to Covid-19, my job joining is uncertain at this time and the company will let me know by December. Though, I'm doing a few courses & working on myself, thoughts about job hunting, new interviews, rethinking about my choice of career path etc. often wander through my mind. How can I deal with this uncertainty in a more mindful way?“
Putting Things into Perspective
Yeah, a very relevant question right now, isn’t it? Thank you for sending this in. You’re the voice of a generation, my friend.
When I consider mindfulness – or at least in times when I’m feeling the most mindful – I think the backbone of all of it is putting things into perspective. Just totally rebalancing, looking at things from an outside perspective and brushing aside all my own inherent biases for a moment.
I find that mindfulness is particularly important in a situation like yours where arousing negative emotions are taking hold – something like anger, frustration or stress. These are exhausting emotions that we latch on to and because they’re so stimulating, they often lead us to doing things that in the long term, are not useful.
Assessing Things Without Bias
So I reflect on these feelings. And when I do, more than 99 times out of 100, I find that they’re completely out of place when assessing everything without bias.
Does this problem strip me of my identity? It might feel that way, but not really, because there’s a lot more to me than whatever this problem is temporarily threatening.
Is this a problem I can’t rebound from? Hasn’t happened yet.
Is this a problem that threatens my survival? I’m still here, but I think it’s fair to be a little less composed if that were the case!
It’s important to ask grandiose questions like these, because in doing so, we find that many times in which we’re feeling angry, frustrated, stressed or uncertain, are completely fleeting and over the long term, have 0-1% impact on our lives.
With all that being said, let’s put uncertainty and your specific case of uncertainty into perspective. I’ll call it how I see it, but do remember that you know the specifics and I don’t.
Fear of Being Left Behind
To me, there’s a part of uncertainty that goes totally overlooked, and it’s a component of many troubling feelings, really. That is the fact that much of the fear derived from uncertainty is only partially about the object of uncertainty (in your case, not knowing if you’ll end up getting this job after all).
A huge portion of uncertainty that goes unaccounted for, however, is the fear of isolation; the fear of being left behind. Think about it if you struggle with not comparing yourself to others: would you be as worried about uncertainty if everyone else was in the same exact situation that you are?
Probably not, because you’d be on a level playing field with everyone and feel like part of the pack. You’d all be in it together and there would be power in numbers. You wouldn’t be at the bottom while everyone else was succeeding, and there’s massive comfort in that.
With that being said, remind yourself that almost all of the population is feeling more uncertain now than it was (they were?) a year ago. Of course each person has different degrees of uncertainty, but know that you are not alone right now.
While your struggle is unique, justifiable, and not to be brushed off, there is still a lot of camaraderie to be had.
Uncertainty is Natural
Therefore, acknowledge how natural your uncertainty is right now, and the fact that nothing about you is out of place for having these feelings. And frankly, even if you were experiencing huge uncertainty in a time when others weren’t, you still wouldn’t be out of place.
That’s because uncertainty (whether caused by personal mishaps or infectious diseases) is something that comes and goes. Personal and global uncertainty aren’t the exceptions, they’re normal parts of their respective cycles.
You’re simply in an uncertain period right now, which will pass. Then it will come back again. Then it’ll pass again.
The better you can grasp this, the better you’ll be able to keep composed in times of uncertainty, and not rest on your laurels or become too attached to times of great certainty.
Uncertainty in the Grander Scheme of Things
I know that work uncertainty can feel particularly daunting. Not only are there the societal pressures attached to it, but we need work and the money that comes from it so we can pay for our base needs to survive.
But you just graduated. You have a lifetime of work and a potential quest for fulfilling work ahead of you, and this is one brief hiccup.
Say you’re out of work even for a year. That’s still such a small speck of time throughout the course of your life. Yes, this is much harder for people who do not have the resources to withstand a year, but thankfully there are more and more organizations coming to rise that help such people in different ways.
Luckily for you, you’re qualified, driven and asking the right questions. You’re going to be fine over the long-term even if you don't have all the answers today, so use this period of uncertainty to get comfortable in times like this and prepare for when they come back by developing the right habits – particularly financial habits.
And finally, don’t let your uncertainty about work (or any one thing) outweigh the certainty you have in your life surrounding other things.
Take this time to put some extra time and appreciation towards that which you currently feel good about and has gone unchanged. Enjoy them while they’re in the most enjoyable parts of their cycles.
I talk a lot about life’s ups and downs, folks. You can always count on them and they apply to all different types of feelings. Watching them turn around you is a great way of staying present and mindful, yet also appropriately detached.
Asker, I hope you’re able to feel more of that now in relation to your predicament, and if not, please reach back out and we can keep working on it.
That’s it for now, everyone. If you’ve got a question you’d like answered on the show, we’d be very happy to help you out and give you support like we do in each episode. Email your question or concern to us at advice AT oldpodcast DOT com
Sound good? Good. Happy you all stopped in today, please do so again as we continue to explore life’s struggles and help you all out. Until next time.