Has a fear of the unknown frozen you so that you are reluctant to make much-needed decisions? Or, has speculating about the future and how you will survive without your loved one brought elevated anxiety? Fear of the unknown is among the most challenging and most common grief-related issues to deal with.
Do you want to know why it is so? It is simply because uncertainty is an indispensable part of life that is overlooked by most until it forces us to confront it. Then we have to take a decisive stand when we are in an anxiety-filled mind frame. The option becomes: either learn to live one hour at a time (maybe one day at a time) or let the unknown fill us with damaging fear and permanently freeze us. So what can we do to deal with this dangerous fear of the future, the unknown?
Realize that taking calculated risks is still a productive method of dealing with unexplored territory. When Europeans voyaged to unknown lands in order to search for new continents to colonize, they were trying to explore the ‘unexplored territory’ through calculated risks. What was the output they received? They colonized almost every major country in the world. Risk-taking is at the very core of advancement and growth. It involves sacrificing, new learning, and being subject to the belief that failure is part of the learning curve; it gives us further information to carry on. Be willing to ultimately come out of your shell and begin again and again, even though you are hurting.
Realize that millions before you, and I include myself, have discovered the art of making peace with uncertainty. Although our desire for certainty is natural, it is also normal never to find it. The keyword is natural and that you can live with uncertainty, so repulsive though it is.
To make peace and live with it means that we need to keep trying to find ways to recognize that uncertainty is okay to have. Simultaneously, we execute and create plans to manage it. Then, when one path doesn’t take us to the winning line, try another.
Carefully focus all your attention more on the present and less on the distinct future. This takes a collective effort, to be sure. But it can really be done and is a significant strategy. Take care of and focus on immediate needs. And, when you observe the descending spiral of thinking the worst about what rests ahead–take your attention back to something nourishing in the present.
It would help if you focused on becoming an expert at refocusing and adopting it as a fundamental, lifelong skill. Trust those who are close to you. It’s okay to somedays lean on them and talk about your fear and seek advice. Take the advice, if it fits you. Let it go for future consideration if it doesn’t.
The critical understanding is to take action after evaluating the dynamics of the situation and discussing with those who have input that could be useful to your final plan. The latter can help immensely in alleviating fears, so seek out the experienced and wise, even if you have to pay a field expert for advice.
The most consistent suggestion coming from counselors of every stripe is:
- Face your uncertainty-based fears.
- Could you not allow them to immobilize you?
- Remember, there are forever going to be times of not knowing– you cannot escape it.
However, the upside is that the long history of facing the unknown tells us that you will indeed prevail.