In today’s article, I would like to talk to you about dealing with uncertainty and how I cope in times of uncertainty. My wish for you is that you can benefit from reading this article and apply its contents in your life.
On March 23rd, 2020, I learned that my world would change and times of uncertainty were ahead. My family and friends would be affected by it as well…. The news about this new sickness was spreading around the world.
Since then, a lot of measurements have been taking place to adapt to the new world. I hope that you are, too.
When I speak of dealing with uncertainty, I want to start with this simple, yet powerful, statement: “If you can deal with change, you can deal with just about anything in life.”
This is something that was embedded in me by my mother when I was a kid, and remains in my sister, Mirna, as an adult. And sure enough, you and I can see what’s happening right now. The global pandemic we know as COVID-19. The time of dealing with uncertainty has arrived whether you are ready or not.
So, there are three main topics I want to talk about because they have helped me personally, and the first step is self-care.
When dealing with uncertainty during a pandemic, self-care is a must! It is very important to maintain your mental well-being in optimum condition. The thing I found that works well for me is to get more sleep, and to sleep well, too. I know that sometimes it’s hard to sleep well every day, but I’ll have to say it’s my secret sauce. It is the sauce needed for a great meal. It’s the power-up that your body and mind need.
Think about it like this, if you’re a cell phone with a dead battery, you’re not much use to yourself or anybody. But If you’re fully charged, you’re in the best position to help yourself and others. Don’t you think so?
Along with “times of uncertainty“ is your time. When your time gets stretched out and you’re trying to do way too many things, in my personal experience, you will do very few of them well, if any.
This is only because you’re not allowing enough time to get things done. I used to fight a lot with the desire to do everything at once but I’ve learned to calm my mind, allocate time to look after myself ,and then attend to everything else.
This reminds me of what you hear on an airplane when the flight attendant announces over the intercom, “In case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first.” You need to do this in order to be helpful to anyone else. Don’t you think so?
Another important thing that helps me in dealing with uncertainty is to continue to do exercise. When I’m referring to exercise, I am not talking about being at the gym for hours at a time, but to simply create a routine of walking every day.
But in all honesty, it doesn’t matter what your thing is as of right now. Just doing something for 10, 20, or 30 minutes a day will keep your metabolism going, the happy chemicals releasing into your body, and clearing your mind, so you are in the position to make a better choice in the moment.
Lastly, the other thing that is helping me with dealing with uncertainty during the pandemic is to get educated. Putting knowledge into your brain and processing it in an effective way is the key to finding opportunities and discovering solutions to any hardship.
This one has been a very important part for me in dealing with uncertainty. Here’s why…
I have always known the following: Knowledge is only powerful when action has been taken from that knowledge.
I believe it’s important to understand that when these things come, they are also signs of positivity associated with them. For example, Yin and Yang, salt and pepper, or day and night.
There is a massive reset happening in the world at the moment. Once the reset has happened, which will be sometime soon, there will be new ground made by people who are ready for it, like you and me.
So, learn new things. Become better at things you have been working on for a while. Keep educating yourself all the time. Do not let this time of uncertainty take you by surprise anymore. It is here and it will be over soon, too.
So, my main point with this first one about self-care, is you’ve got to get yourself in the strongest position to be able to move through and activate the other two topics.
I have a question for you: How are you dealing with uncertainty regarding dancing?
This next point is about dancing. For me, keeping dancing as a part of the fun factor in my house is a little easier because I have everything available since I teach my students here.
Now, in your case, no matter what you have available, there will be a small place, maybe a room or a garage, that you can adapt to. The key here is to be able to set aside time to practice or to learn a new step online. By doing this you will be engaged, and not fear losing what you have learned.
But for me, it’s about keeping my dance muscles always active by creating new material that I can use with my students (and for myself) once things are back to normal.
Now, this one is about having “a solid dashboard” for your dancing, health, or relationships.
What you need to know are the indicators that reflect the health of your dancing, both now and ongoing, which will reveal early signs of something missing, or that needs improvement, with your dancing.
For example, when I am looking at my “dashboard” the number of repetitions it took me to learn a new step lets me know how I’m doing. I consider five to ten repetition to be a good sign. Eleven or more means that I need to focus more, without distraction.
Another example is if after one hour of learning something new I can’t do the new step three times back to back, it means I need to concentrate on the fluidity of the step within my “dance persona”, if you will.
I would like to believe every dancer has a “dance map” to help determine what the next for them is at any given moment. You shouldn’t be flying blind: you should always know where you are heading and identify early signs that something is not taking place in your learning.
Creating the road map of where you want to go in your dancing will help in dealing with uncertainty during a pandemic.
OK, what do I mean by dance variable? Am I referring to dance variations? Nope, I’m not. Dance variables is a term I use to emphasize the two things that will always be present in any dance step, whether simple or complex. They are (1) the beginning and (2) the end of the step. These are the ones that change at your will and are the cornerstone of becoming a fluid dancer.
Think about it like planning a road trip. Where am I going? Do I travel by car or plane? How much money will I travel with? Do I pack food or buy it on the road? And so forth…
Be prepared to let go of things that are not modern, or are out of style, and start learning current dance steps and new concepts for leading and following, so you get a better result on the dance floor, time and time again.
The beginning or ending of any step will change. Be comfortable experimenting with them and learning to change them at any time
I am going to talk about the most recent thing I learned that is helping me with dealing with uncertainty… and it is to adapt.
It has been my experience, and I’m pretty sure yours too, that when we are dancing we are moving constantly. We are always adapting to the new situation without giving it too much thought… am I right?
In these times of uncertainty, you need to adapt. Other people call this pivoting, but that term is a little overused if you ask me. The point that I am trying to make here is that we need to adapt, and adapt quickly.
You have to learn, cultivate, and maintain the willingness and ability to adjust your plan in order to avoid that “sunk” feeling that deters you from success. You’ve got to be able to let go of that “sunk” feeling.
Remember, with changes you can move quickly in a new direction (both in your dancing and in life, for that matter) and start trying new things. Yes!
The “Pay Yourself First” Concept.
In times of dealing with uncertainty, the “pay yourself first” concept might sound backward to you, but it is not.
So, what do I mean by paying yourself first? Well, this is something I have learned here in the USA. When I started to work, my older brother would tell me the following: “For every check you receive, put some money aside for yourself, and then pay for your other expenses.”
What I came to realize as I got older is to have the discipline to put stuff aside.
I often hear some of my friends saying to me that they need like $4380 to have a nice vacation this year. Then the following statement, “Where am I going to get that kind of money?”
The thing they miss here is that if they put away $12 each day for 365 days, it will give them that kind of money. You can do exactly the same thing, just like I have. What you need is the discipline to do it non-stop.
Again, take this time of uncertainty to educate yourself as much as possible. Whatever your endeavor is, this simple principle to “pay yourself first” will help you with pretty much anything you do in life. Find what that is, create the discipline to do it every day, and then reap the result of your effort.
There will always be opportunities.
Seek opportunities. The hard thing about this is figuring out what is going to be an opportunity. Where is it? What is it?
For example, if you used to go to the dance studio for an hour to learn one new thing, practice for 30 minutes, and then head home after the class, guess what? Now, not only can you learn one thing, but many more steps by taking classes online, and still have plenty of time to practice, instead of driving in traffic. Also, online you get an hour of class for a third of the price of a private lesson.
You probably already realized that everyone is going online. Everything is moving online. We’ve seen all the streaming services that are experiencing pretty heavy load right now, you know, because people have discovered it.
I’ve seen empty bicycle shops because, as people are at home now, they need bicycles for exercise. As you can see, there are opportunities everywhere.
A Positive Environment.
Creating a positive environment can be hard to do, but what you want is an environment that gets the best out of you and the people around you. This one is really important because of the current situation around the world.
We can’t be around people as much as we would like ,but if you can, you need to be selective of those in your inner circle. You need to be around positive, supportive people.
I continue to have a positive outlook on every situation that I face daily. It took me some time to develop the skill to have a positive mindset, but I tell ya, it is not impossible to acquire either.
Why don’t you try to see only one positive thing in your everyday activities, and see how your perception of this pandemic shifts from bad to good?
I learned long ago, from what my mother used to tell me in my teen year, to get very comfortable with the concept of embracing uncertainty. ” Dealing with uncertainty is an essential part of life,” she said to me.
If this concept comes easily to you, awesome. But if not, you are not alone. For me and many people I know, it requires ongoing practice to truly accept that we can’t plan our way to everything.
How to deal with uncertainty includes being okay with your feelings about it. Is it ok to feel worried? Stressed? Fearful? Yes, it is!
Acknowledge what you’re feeling and give yourself permission to experience the difficult feelings. Research shows that writing down what you’re stressed about helps you move through it with a bit more ease.
Accept the fight.
Remember this always: We are living through challenging times today, but life is always full of challenges, in one way or another.
Resisting your current reality won’t help you recover, learn, grow, or feel better.
Ironically, the flip side of that thought is that resistance only prolongs your pain and difficulty by amplifying the challenging emotions you might be feeling now. There is real truth to the thought that what we resist persists.
I have always believed that for ‘every action there’s a reaction’.
Therefore, accepting the truth (the reality of the situation in the present moment) will free you up to move forward, rather than remaining paralyzed, or made ineffective, by uncertainty.
FYI – to be clear, acceptance is not the same as resignation. Accepting a situation doesn’t mean that it will never get better. We don’t accept that things will stay the same forever; we only accept whatever is actually happening at the moment. Yes!
Practicing acceptance in times of uncertainty is hard, and it’s also the most effective way to move forward. Yes!
Focus on what’s good.
Perhaps the most essential stress-reduction tactic that anyone has ever taught me in dealing with uncertainty is not to believe everything. It is only normal for our brain to focus on negative thoughts when faced with uncertainty.
Actually, it is more likely to think about what might go wrong than what might go right. I know it happens because I have been there before.
But, I want you to learn, and dwell on, the following statement: It is extremely hard to control your first thought, but your second thought YOU can control.
Instead of buying into your first stressful thought, actively imagine the best possible scenario.
If you find that a little hard to do, try this:
Write down two or three things you’re grateful for, regardless of the uncertainty. These can be anything, anything at all. Once you write them one by one, I want you to make them specific and truly pause to appreciate them.
This action will help your brain to pause its negativity spiral.
Is someone coming to rescue you? Yes, YOU!
I am not afraid or ashamed to share with you that in past times of certainty, I acted as though I was powerless and hopeless.
I got trapped in narratives that left me feeling angry, helpless and trapped.
I wished that someone would come to give me a hand out of my dilemma. Is it really bad to feel this way? Not really, not in my case.
Remember, I can’t control my first thought but I can control my second thought…bingo! Truly the only person who’s coming to save you is YOU, because YOU CAN, just like I did before many years ago.
“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is.” – John Allen Paulos, Mathematician
In other words, the best way to cope with dealing with uncertainty is to stop complaining about it. When you stop feeding negative energy to the problem, you can focus on the positive outcomes you want.
Let me give a few questions to help you channel your new wants…
– How can I make the best of this mess?
– What can I gain in this situation?
– What is my next step to move forward from this situation?
These are the questions I asked myself when I was in trouble. These are the questions that help me find meaning in the chaos.
I read somewhere that social psychologists define meaning, as it applies to our lives, as ‘an intellectual and emotional assessment of the degree to which we feel our lives have purpose, value, and impact.’
Quick question for you… What happens when you think that something needs improvement?
You take a moment to assert the problem. Yes.
Your next step is to recognize what you can do to be a part of the solution. Yes.
If you find you can’t help the solution, who can you bring to help with the issue?
I believe meaning and purpose are intertwined with hope. When the present times feel scary due to dealing with uncertainty, feeling a sense of purpose can ground you better than anything else.
So, don’t wait for this situation to be over. Don’t be resigned to your misery while we wait for a vaccine or a savior. Start living the life you want, you desire. Take the necessary steps to help accomplish the life you want.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are the three main topics I worked on to keep my sanity while dealing with uncertainty during the pandemic. Life is always full of surprises, as you know. These surprises, whether they are good or bad, do enrich our lives, but only if you choose to see it that way.
The simple reality is (for me at least) that we have the power to choose how it’s going to be.
I wrote the following statement in the article How To Get Unstuck When You’re Feeling Stuck:
“I always believe that knowing the source of the problem is half of the battle. The real question is: What are you going to do to get unstuck now that you have multiple, but simple, ways to get yourself moving?“
With that in mind, I continue to bear the fruits of applying the things that you know now. I hope this article will serve you well.
Happy dancing and stay safe!!