Tolerate uncertainty: a guide to survival

Tolérer l’incertitude: guide de survie

The lives of everyone is not a long quiet river : glitches arise, disappointments, and trials arise, an accident, a bereavement, a relationship breakdown or a serious illness are part of life’s ups and downs. The intolerance to uncertainty, it is the inability to endure the idea that a negative event could occur in our lives, regardless of the real risk that it will occur.

In general, the majority of people coping with uncertainty in everyday life. But in this time of health crisis, where there are many uncertainties, our vigilance is increased tenfold, and our tolerance for uncertainty is wrong.

The current context is difficult to tolerate for several reasons : we do not know the duration nor the outcome of the crisis, there is a fear of risks to our health and the health of our loved ones, we are in constant expectation of the guidelines so that science does not give us further certainty in the face of the pandemic.

Intolerance sometimes intolerable

Given the uncertainty, this anxiety can affect the physical and mental health. Some will experience pain or physical symptoms : a knot in the stomach, palpitations, appetite problems, sleep disorders, for example. When this is not the body that reacts, what are the negative thoughts that can spin in a loop and generate excessive worry. We will observe also in this context, feelings of sadness, discouragement, irritability, and a high emotional exhaustion.

Intolerance of uncertainty also has the tendency to become contagious to loved ones, and more currently, due to the containment which increases the proximity in the houses.

Tame the monster

The natural temptation to flee or to ignore our anxiety can be strong. Unfortunately, there will be a nice distraction, if lead to the utmost, begin in a large household or listen to a line, a television series, the negative thoughts that haunt us always come back. And when they come up again and again, eventually they wear us down.

The best strategy to regain control and to protect themselves is to learn to tolerate the uncertainty. First, by recognizing these thoughts in loops, that corrode and paralyze it, and then accepting the discomfort they cause. By doing this, we are going to tame the uncertainty and gradually desensitize.

Learning to cope with it, little by little, the uncertainty becomes bearable. The image of a monster in our kits, it’s better to confront than to flee, and collapsed, exhausted. Can we annihilate ? Perhaps, but it will eventually come back, so much to do… At this time, for many, the monster is called COVID-19, and generates a lot of fears.

Opt for constructive thoughts

This is not so much the uncertainty that may we grieve that the way in which each copes with it. People temperament, negative, depressed mood, or quick to over-dramatise will find it more difficult to cope with it. But there are strategies that can help us.

Even if the current situation is unique, this is not the first moment of crisis in our personal lives. What have we done in the past to go through difficult periods ? The solutions and tools that have worked once may be useful today : a friend, a health professional, a particular ritual, etc

Remove or escape from the uncertainty : none of these methods work. So it is best to learn to live with it. This is a learning process, difficult certainly, but within the reach of all. As a training run, that requires patience, but yields the same results. Stop the negative thoughts and strive to foster thoughts in solution mode, which will put us into action and we do take measures to protect themselves.

The feeling of self-control and the tolerance to the uncertainty are a part of a good resilience. In the absence of controlling everything around you, let’s start with our attitude : it can change ! A not running at the time.

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