Uncertainty and Change; Friend or Foe?

Uncertainty: Friend or Foe?

Making a Change:

Since last year I’ve been working on a lot of goals. I opened a business and started working with supervisees for the first time. I’m putting myself out there as a trainer/speaker for the first time. First, first, first.

Adding these responsibilities have really stretched me and challenged me in a lot of ways. I’m learning to experience the emotions that come with owning something with your name on it. I am by no means an expert at business, but I like the challenge and I’m learning as I go. I was looking to grow and change and challenge myself. I’m accomplishing just that, and in the process I’ve done a lot of new things I’ve never done before. It’s a very exciting time for me.

The Challenge of Uncertainty

On the other side of taking these steps to obtain my goals in the counseling field comes a lot of uncertainty. Financial uncertainty, will I have enough clients, will supervisees come to see me, and what if I work months on a training and no one shows up? Fear of failure and the unknown can easily creep in.

The thing is, change and uncertainty are very challenging for me, and probably for many others. I tend to like plans and to know what’s next. Those that know me know how scheduled I am and how I like to plan my life way in advance. Business challenges that for me on so many levels. I’m very loyal and dedicated and I will drag out a tough situation that’s not great just to avoid the change and stay in my comfort zone. On the positive, this makes me a very loyal and consistent person and I’m great at commitment, but if I don’t keep myself in check I will continue a sometimes difficult or not good for me but good for them situation, or get stuck in the mundane.

It’s Not Just Me!

I’ve noticed some of the same challenges with change and uncertainty with people that I work with.  Either they hit a new milestone in their career, like getting their license and begin to explore their options, or they’ve decided to change the way they are doing something in their home or work life and dealing with the ambivalence that can sometimes follow the decision to make a change.

I read this morning on one of my favorite websites “Unstuck.com” that our brains see uncertainty as a challenge.  That we try to make up something certain in our minds to deal with the uncertainty because we are wired to survive that way.  This makes since in a survival situation, but it can sometimes be a stumbling block to a positive change. People tent to have trouble seeing past the ambiguity to the other side of the change. It takes a greater payout on the other end for people to walk through the uncertainty.

So Now What?

I was talking with someone I trust yesterday about some of the uncertainty I’m experiencing right now and she asked me how could I view uncertainty differently, rather than a threat? Or a fear? Well, here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Change is certain.
  • Change is sometimes necessary.
  • View it as an opportunity to be creative with your life.
  • Write out the positives of the end goals.
  • Practice self-care rituals to deal with the emotions of the change.
  • Lean on your support, your tribe, or who ever you go to for accountability and
  • Practice your faith and trust in you God, and also yourself to make the right steps.
  • Focus on the next step right in front of you, (Thank you Oprah for this one!)
  • Focus on the Process not the outcome (thanks Marie Forleo!)
  • Look at the ambiguity and uncertainty not as a threat, but as an opportunity to be creative and make some tough decisions.

How do you deal with change and uncertainty? Leave a comment below and share with your friends.

4 comments on “Uncertainty and Change; Friend or Foe?

  1. Thank you, Jill, for writing about this and being so transparent about your own journey with change.

    I appreciate you.

    ” . . . I will drag out a tough situation that’s not great just to avoid the change and stay in my comfort zone.”

    I’m thinking about this statement and my own development as it relates to racial identity.

    The back story is that I took a Summer Intensive through the Gestalt Institute of the Rockies earlier this month that focused an anti-racism and white supremacy.

    “Gestalt” should say it all – it was intense and it was all learning by “doing the work” on ourselves.

    So, I learned way too much (mostly about me) that doesn’t all directly relate to change; but, the thing that does relate . . and the thing I learned about me is that I lie to myself to keep myself comfy as it relates to engaging in difficult dialogues related to race.

    So . . . Your comment about about avoiding “the change . . . To stay in my comfort zone” is painfully embarrassing to admit concerning this area in my life.

    The good new . . . really the GREAT news for me is that now that I realize how far I have gone on too many occasions to keep from disturbing MY peace . . . I will do better.

    For me, just taking a more honest look at what I truly value . . . and pairing those values up with right actions really will and is allowing me to see and choose different actions . . . more right actions to create change in and around me.

    What I am learning is that if and when I am willing to tell myself the unadulterated truth, I am not willing to then sit quietly by and not do something.

    Now that I’m writing this out – Thank you, Jill, for asking the question – I’m thinking that this just might generalize into other areas far-removed from race when change is the option at hand for me.

    I’m thinking that when I am presented with work-related change, family-related change, and community-related change, if I simply step back, slow down, and tell myself the real truth . . . , it is entirely likely that I may then see how the reality syncs up with my personal and spiritual values . . . and take that next right step forward.

    I should also add that my relationship with change has been an ongoing adventure for me for a really long time.

    My partner (who has had 20 years to rub off on me!), has always been less-planned and more spontaneous than me.

    That fluidity (that I’ve often resisted) has brought many gifts my way.

    Now, I do see change more often as an adventure and less of a challenge that I used to and for that I am grateful.

    This old dog is still trainable at 56 years of age.

    Blessings to you on your journey, Jill!

    And, thank you for all that you do in our community!

    • Thank you Tamara for talking about your experience. I actually love going through trainings like that that cause you to look at yourself (sounds like a good sandtray idea!) I am interested in the Gestalt training you mentioned it sounds really enlightening. I am the first to try things on myself.

  2. As I’m reading this, I’m thinking of all the changes mine and my husbands life has changed in the past few months. In May my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer, inoperable , incurable. By the way he is also a non smoker.
    After the initial shock , we made a plan and thank goodness we live in a state where they have the best hospitals around. (Boston, Ma.)
    I was working for a non-profit 20 hours a week; but, you know more like 30…so I gave my notice. This freed me up to concentrate on my private practice and to be with my husband , especially when he he has his treatment.
    I believe all the changes that we go through in life prepares us for the not quite expected changes that happen.
    This is long winded , I have never responded to a blog before ; but this so spoke to me. Thank you Jill, and best of luck to you.

    • Thank you Rose for commenting with such a vulnerable response. You’ve definitely had to make some changes. I’m sorry about your husband’s cancer. I pray you have the comfort and support you need during this time.

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