How To Tolerate Uncertainty

Do we need to know EVERYTHING about events that haven’t happened yet?

This morning, I was absorbed in a Facebook post in the group I like. The group is about renting holiday homes and cottages across the UK.

A holiday cottage owner posted screenshots of the conversation between her and one of her ‘to-be’ guest.

We all watched in disbelief how this lady patiently answered hundreds of holidaymaker’s questions.

The holidaymaker wanted to know absolutely everything; from how much sugar and pepper was left to what material the roof was from (!!).

This post, understandably, attracted a lot of negative comments, targeted at the holidaymaker. Members literally crucified her, calling her names, crazy and much worse.

But I saw a struggling Anxiety sufferer, with no control over ‘needing to control’ future situations.

I see this behaviour a lot in my practice. It’s a form of ‘control’ Anxiety sufferers need to be ‘prepared’ for any possibility. It’s called ‘Intolerance of uncertainty’.

*I offer short ‘Tolerating Distress & Uncertainty’ Programs- for full details, please click here.*

Another reason I wanted to share this story was because Mental Health problems aren’t always obvious.

Unhealthy Anxiety and Low Mood can be blamed for a lot of what we see and hear, especially on Social Media.

Don’t judge – be kind.

As part of my therapy process, I offer a complimentary consultation.

This is what I tend to hear:

‘At home, I’m able to have a control over everything. It’s only in (fill in the blank) when that control goes.’

Clients are normally very surprised when I say that having control over things isn’t helping with unhealthy Anxiety.

And even more surprised to hear that during therapy, we will learn new skills on how to tolerate uncertainty and distress it may bring.

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If you also need to be ‘prepared’ and ‘have control’ over things that haven’t happened yet, ask yourself these simple questions:

  • Can you be absolutely, 100% certain about everything in life?

  • What are the advantages of needing certainty in life?

  • How has needing certainty in life been helpful to you?

  • What are the disadvantages of needing certainty in life?

  • How has needing certainty in life been unhelpful to you, or even detrimental to your life?

  • Do you tend to predict that something bad will happen, just because you are uncertain? Is this a reasonable thing to do? Could something good or neutral be just as likely to happen?

  • Are there some uncertainties in your life that you can live with? How do you do this? Can you do the same thing in situations where you have difficulty tolerating uncertainty?

Talk to the people you know. How do they cope with the uncertainty and unpredictability of life? Could you do the same thing they do in situations where you have difficulty tolerating uncertainty?

Chances are, by answering these questions you may have discovered that needing ‘certainty’ over future events may not have been very useful, or helpful to you at all.

In my short ‘Anxiety Recovery Programs’ (6 weeks long), we focus on learning how to live with, and tolerate uncertainty, by:

Increasing awareness.  

In which situations do you need certainty?

In my above example, the lady couldn’t cope with not knowing EVERYTHING about the property she was about to rent. Do you think it was helpful to her, knowing the answers to her questions? Do you think it prepared her for every eventuality? Do you think she ended up booking the property?

(She didn’t. She made up some story about something ‘coming up at the last minute’. But I bet her Anxiety had a lot to do with that decision. She then proceeded to demand her money back, despite being in breach of contract).

Not responding to the need for certainty.

Now, this is a tough one. Learning how not give in to the need to ‘control’ will cause initial distress to the sufferers.

What can you do, or tell yourself, to help you cope with not responding to your need?

Being focused on the present.

Here, our wonderful mindfulness techniques come to practice.

Download your free copy here:

Learn Three Immediate Anxiety Relief Techniques That You Can Implement Into Your Life Right Now

*Free Immediate Access. The workbook Includes Focus Awareness (Mindfulness), Breathing Techniques & Negative Self-Labelling Impact*

Dealing with a wondering mind.

Yes, our minds are sneaky things- they wonder. After all, they’ve wondered for years- why stop now?

What can you tell yourself to help you when your mind wanders back to needing certainty?

To sum up my article:

Tolerating uncertainty and expected distress is no easy task, if this is how you’ve been ‘preparing for every eventuality’ for years.

If you feel there’s no balance between regular and excessive Anxiety about future events, please do get in touch.

CBT Therapy, coupled with Coaching and Mindfulness, will deliver:

  1. Understanding WHY you do things you do;

  2. New skills and techniques to help you live healthier, happier life (let’s face it, constant ‘preparations’ and ‘scanning for future threats’ is no esy task);

  3. Ability to live in, and enjoy, ‘present’;

  4. And much more.

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Tolerating Distress & Uncertainty- 6 Weeks Anxiety Recovery Program

If you struggle with needing to ‘control future events’ and ‘tolerating uncertainty’,  I offer short, 6-weeks-long

‘Tolerating Distress & Uncertainty Program’ at:

Ready to find out more? Book a Complimentary Consultation-

Fill in this form or Click here to speak to me now

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