Can You Tolerate Uncertainty? The Answer May Reveal Why You Struggle with Anxiety

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We live in an age of uncertainty.

Not knowing can be the worse.

 All of us experience anxiety from time to time. 

It is a part of the human condition to feel the discomfort that is anxiety. Many of our “firsts” trigger such feelings of anxiety-our first day of school, our first time away from home, our first date, our first kiss, our first job.

Anxiety can also be brought on by life events: going away to college, getting married, your first job, having a baby, buying a house, getting divorced, selling your house, retirement. Any major life change, positive or negative, can produce worries and feelings of apprehension. In life changing moments or when you are in unfamiliar waters, these feelings are to be expected.

As human beings, we have a tendency to hate change.

Dealing with an uncertainty is an inevitable part of life. None of us can predict the future. For some of us this is just an inalienable truth to life–none of us know what the future will bring. But for others, their INability to tolerate uncertainty causes distress and suffering.

Anxiety is the root cause of controlling behavior. Many people struggle to control themselves, the people in their lives, and their environment. For them, this is a way to try to ensure certainty in an increasingly uncertain world.

Some of us can tolerate a large amount of uncertainty in our lives but for others even a small amount can feel unbearable.

The sad thing for people who suffer with anxiety is they miss out on many of the unpredictable, unplanned for moments of life that come with going with the flow. Of spontaneity. Of just waiting to see how the day unfolds.

For people who cannot stand uncertainty–their increasing levels of anxiety makes their world smaller and smaller. If anxiety isn’t effectively managed it can take over your life.

Anxiety suffers tend to use safety behaviors designed to eliminate uncertainty.

As many as 1 of 4 adults suffer–meaning there are people in your life who struggle with this disorder and you may have no idea.

Anxiety is the most common mood disorder in the United States (NIMH).

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If you are wondering if you or someone you know may be struggling with anxiety below are some behaviors and red flags of people with high anxiety:

~You have trouble having fun

~Seeking reassurance from others

~Withdrawing from others

~Sleep disturbances

~Refusing to delegate tasks to others

~Difficulty focusing

~Mood swings


~Needing to be in your comfort zone (usually your house or some other environment you feel in control of)

~Planning things down to the minute (can’t let others make the plans)

~Unwilling to travel to new places (or at all)

~Relationship issues (constantly checking in, codependency, not going anywhere without your partner)


~Struggling with anger

~Second guessing (yourself and others)

~Underemployment or unemployment

~Difficulty with change

~Preparing for every possibility (or trying to)

~Having a dislike for anything new (new equates to uncertain)

~Avoidance of said new places, new people, new experiences

~Avoiding any situation (or person) you feel you cannot control


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If you recognize yourself in these behaviors, there are steps you can take to mitigate your anxiety.

1)Stay in the present moment. Anxiety comes from projecting our attention into the future. Anxiety is negative thoughts about the future–negative what-ifs and worst case scenarios. Practice bringing your attention back to the present when you feel your anxiety levels rising.

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2)Expose yourself to the things that make you anxious. Avoidance behavior is an effective way to relieve anxiety in the short-term, but increase your anxiety in the long-term. Anxiety will continue to make your world smaller and smaller unless you push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Take baby steps out of your comfort zone.

3)Reflect on your personality. Certain personalities are more prone to anxiety–some people have a more active brain than others–reflecting, worrying, analyzing things to death. You may worry too much about what others think or about making a mistake. If you fall into this category, you are more likely to struggle with anxiety.

4)Stop focusing on yourself. Anxiety is a very much a focus on your feelings, your thoughts, your reactions. A large part of anxiety is centered on how things affect YOU. Try to step outside of yourself and focus on helping out someone else. As someone who works in a helping profession, I find helping others is one of the most effective ways to lessen my OWN worries and anxious thoughts. It is hard to sit in worry and anxiety when you are busy with connecting and helping others.

5)Seek counseling. A good therapist has numerous technique and coping skills they can provide you with. They can also help you work through the root causes of your worries. Counseling is a good place to start your recovery from anxiety.

And lastly, what is the likelihood something bad will happen? I often have my clients discuss with me things they worried about that never came to fruition. It helps them to recognize that most of the things we worry about, never happen.

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