Health

Facing uncertainty? Here's how to let go of fear and embrace change

Jan. 22, 2014 at 8:47 AM ET

Video: Psychiatrist Dr. Ish Major and life coach Laurie Gerber teach TODAY viewers how to best deal with everyday decision making, embrace the unknown, and fulfill specific plans and long-term goals.

As humans, we love to control EVERYTHING. We will do almost anything to avoid feeling uncertain — but sometimes, it's just unavoidable.

Uncertainty can feel unsettling — even crippling at times — but it’s essential for growth. When faced with a challenging period of change in your life, ask yourself: What is the lesson I need to learn right now? And what do I need to face and conquer?

  • Is difficulty with getting pregnant teaching you the patience to nurture a child?
  • Is uncertainty about love teaching you to be more honest?
  • Is an industry trend forcing you to really put yourself out there?
  • Is a financial shift requiring you to grow up about money?

GOOD!

It’s possible to move beyond fearing change and learn to relish and welcome it. The trick is to take the uncertainty, learn the lesson from it and come up with a solution in the face of it. Get into a plan instead of being paralyzed and stuck. 

The first part of your plan should be building self-respect through making and keeping promises to yourself. If it has to do with money, keep a budget and balance your checkbook. If it's about a new job opportunity you want, promise to make 10 networking contacts a week. If you realize you want to settle down, go on two dates a week with good potential partners. The more you make and keep promises, the more you’ll know you can weather the storm, regardless of which direction the wind blows. You’ll learn to trust yourself to build relationships, your finances and everything else in your life.

Getting better at trusting yourself starts with being honest. Yes, even in your dating profile. Building certainty in relationships comes from the hard work of telling someone who you really are. Building certainty in your bank account means doing the hard work of admitting to yourself how much you make and how much you spend and on what, and then being willing to deal with it. Trusting yourself with decisions for your kids probably means writing it all out and discussing it with a trusted adviser.

Once you make peace with your choice — whether a divorce, a job change, a surgery or a move across the country — communicate gracefully with those impacted by your decision. One of the hardest parts is fear of other people's reactions. However, the fastest way to reduce your stress and theirs is by sitting down for a purposeful conversation. The objective is twofold: to share the news, and to hear the feedback and feelings of the listener. Good listening is crucial here. If you allow others time and space to move through any reactions, you will find yourself with markedly more peace in the face of uncertainty. Choosing not to open up and share does not save anyone. Don't think you can fool people. They know something is up.

The voice of fear in our heads will always want to win out over our dreams and our loudest, proudest life. Don't let it. 

Laurie Gerber is a co-president and senior coach at Handel Group Life Coaching

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