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Dealing with Uncertainty

No matter how carefully we plan and structure our lives we cannot control the future. This can leave many feeling anxious and unsure. Meaningful Minds clinical psychologist, Ethelwyn Rebelo looks at how we can deal with such matters of uncertainty.

As we come to the end of 2016, most of us will look back on the last twelve months, remembering moments of growth and achievement as well as those of difficulty and loss. Together with coming to terms with the events of this year we are likely to make plans for 2017 and hope that it will bring us closer to achieving our life’s ambitions.

Women’s magazines will publish articles on what people with different star signs can expect from the new year and some of us will be reading these avidly and hopefully. Others will work on increasing their positive thinking in the hope that this will assist them in bringing about that which they desire.

Positive thinking is certainly helpful in terms of maintaining good mental health and in helping us to approach life proactively and with optimism and there is no doubt that a sense of empowerment goes a long way in assisting people to achieve their goals. However, irrespective of how hard we try to take command of our lives, uncertainty can never be entirely erased.

As self-help writer, Susan Jeffers has pointed out, we are taught that we need to take control of everything: our careers, relationships, health, money and children. Taking responsibility for these aspects of our life and acknowledging our role in their management is well and good, but full control is impossible. Accidents, illnesses, economic crashes, well-intentioned mistakes and natural disasters happen.

This does not mean that we should abandon our plans and sit back passively waiting for life to unfold. Rather, Jeffers advises that we should switch our focus from outcomes, which we can never fully control, to processes and habits, which we can control.

We may not be able to guarantee that we may not lose our job, but we can work hard, nurture networks and go for additional training. We cannot be certain of not losing a loved one, but we can take care of important relationships and ensure that we convey love to all those who are special to us. We cannot be sure that we will not fall ill, but we can eat healthily and engage in regular exercise.

Positive visualisation has often been advocated as a means of helping us to make use of our energies to achieve our desired goals. It is, indeed, useful and we should imagine ourselves obtaining that which we are are working for. However we should always try to have a second plan of action should things go awry. Hence it is advisable to visualise things going wrong and the steps we might take in focusing on alternative options, should we be unsuccessful.

Another way of seeing this is to think of living life strategically. Be the Commander in Chief of your life, decide on the various routes and weapons for attack, but remain mindful of a possible need for alternative defences, resources and options should the battle fail.

If you ever feel overwhelmed and need help in dealing with these matters, you can always reach out to a psychologist at Meaningful Minds Psychologists- 011 615 1030.

Wishing you all easy victories in the new year.

Wishing you all easy victories in the new year.

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