When my daughter was in high school, like most kids, she had a few good friends that spent the night from time to time. There was this one girl that she really wanted to have spend the night, but every time we asked, her parents declined. They felt she wasn’t mature enough to spend the night away from home. She was an incredibly bright student, straight A’s, volunteered, etc. Can you guess what happened to this brilliant young woman less than a month into her freshman year of college 500 miles from home?! Uncertainty smacked this young woman around like a superball on a wood floor.
We all have six human needs and to survive, we must have these needs met. All of us value one or two of these needs more than the others and this is what governs our lives. The first need is for Certainty- we all need to know we have a place to lay our head, food for our belly, that we can be warm and secure, and that we are needed or valued. For some people, this need can become the driving factor in their lives. This can lead to a person making decisions they may not otherwise make because they absolutely NEED the certainty the decision will produce. Unfortunately this can be at the cost of connection, growth, or worse-love. Often people who have gone into a depressive state will avoid going out with friends and will avoid family gatherings, all so they can remain in the safety (certainty) of their homes or rooms.
A person well rooted in their depression, however, cannot sustain life there, so they go from a state of sadness to one of anger or upset, also known as Uncertainty. Uncertainty, or variety, is the need we all have for something different, something unknown. For some, this can be extreme, as in the case of extreme sports, hard drugs, or other life threatening ways to get their thrills. Others meet their need for uncertainty with alcohol, food, gambling, exercise, a career that challenges them, having children, adventures to new places, finding a new hobby, learning a new language, or volunteering. The amount of uncertainty (also known as unknowns, problems, challenges, surprises, or issues) that we can comfortably live with is directly proportionate to our life happiness. Uncertainty has become a major focal point for many mental health, behavioral health, and even physical health professionals as of late. The studies have shown that the more uncertainty a person is thrust into, the more they learn coping skills, and thereby the more well-adjusted they are after the studies end.
Stop and think about the last time you weren’t sure about how a certain challenge was going to affect your life- maybe you heard through the grapevine that your company was down-sizing or perhaps moving some jobs to a foreign country. What does that do to your feeling of security or certainty? It probably (and rightfully so) shakes you to your core. Perhaps you begin making decisions based in fear of not having money or maybe you start telling friends and family that you can’t attend or accompany them to the movies, on a vacation, or somewhere you’ve been looking forward to visiting. You begin worrying about not finding another job for weeks, months, maybe even years, which then leads to thoughts of losing your home, your car, and possibly even your family. See how all of this spiraled from a rumor that you don’t even have proof it’s happening, and yet the feelings you are feeling are real.
In this scenario, the overhearing of a rumor led to some real gut-wrenching uncertainty, aka anxiety. Anxiety about the future-your future and that of your family. When we are focused on our past and what has happened to us that we didn’t like, or things that didn’t happen that we think should have, we are sad or depressed. When we are focusing on the future and all of the problems, challenges, and issues that CAN happen, we become anxious.
Learning to adjust to life’s uncertainties is a life skill I truly think kids should be taught early in life, and then adult life will handle the rest. There are many ways to “train our uncertainty muscles”, and just as there are levels to training athletes, there are levels to train “uncertainty thrivers”. In the interest of brevity, I will save those tools and descriptions for the next post, so be sure to subscribe below so you don’t miss out!
Are you interested in seeing where you fall on the uncertainty scale? How about what your needs structure look like? I offer a complimentary evaluation that will help you see your need structure and how this affects decisions you are currently making, and how you can change things around, if you don’t feel the results are congruent with your authentic self. It really is eye opening to see why we do some of the things we do, and you can use the evaluation over and over again, so give it to friends, family, co-workers, etc and really learn how to effectively communicate with everyone in your life!
Congratulations on taking the first step toward improving your life happiness through embracing uncertainty! My wish for all is to live a life filled with Gratitude, Abundance, and Passion!