10 Ways to Deal With Uncertain Future Anxiety

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Over the past five years, I have gone through so many transitions, and many periods of time when I had no idea what was next.  This episode of uncertainty is a little more extreme than the others, and I thought it would be good to come up with a real plan for handling my Uncertain Future Anxiety (UFA.)

1.  Recall past experiences of UFA, not knowing how things would turn out, and review the ways in which everything really did turn out OK.

2.   Hash out your worst fears.  Delve into the details of your Worst Case Scenario, and examine the feelings and logistics that might accompany the situation.  Usually, it’s not really as awful as it seems, and nothing is worse than nebulous fear.  Name your fears, and get comfy with them.  This will also help you evaluate your options more clearly, when they come up.

3.  Take this as an opportunity to dream about your Most Ideal Scenario.  It’s really helpful to articulate what your dreams are, whether they seem achievable or not.  This way, you can evaluate opportunities in a positive and hopeful way, working toward something good, rather than just trying to avoid something bad.  Hash out ideas about what makes life rewarding for you, and how that can be a part of your future somehow.  We often go through big chunks of life without making really deliberate choices about how we want to live. Take this time of uncertainty as an opportunity to be intentional.  Jeff and I have frequently talked about what we’d like to do “in our new life.”

4.  If you feel sad about what you may lose in your future transition, name your current advantages and make a point of enjoying them.  Right now.  Have people over, go visit a favorite place, knock a few items off of your “Want to Do” list.  After all, you are still in your current location/ situation.  Make the most of it!  Don’t get stuck in a trap of not even being able to enjoy something you currently have just because it’s temporary!

5.  In preparation for your Uncertain Future, take good care of your internal resources.  If you need to be around people to feel fulfilled and energized, and you have a time of potential loneliness coming up, then by all means, go have fun as often as possible, with as many people as you can wrangle!  I don’t fall into this category, but I do know that I must take as many opportunities as possible to enjoy the quiet times available to me.  I will take up any offers on babysitting, and not exhaust my introverted self unnecessarily.  This is not a time to be a super hero– that will come during your transition!

6.  Think of ways in which other people can help you.  Write them down, so you don’t forget when someone asks what they can do.  What will you really need?  Be honest with yourself, your spouse and people who would like to support you.  Like fear, a nebulous sense of need is overwhelming.  Identify your perceived needs, verbalize them if possible, and move on.

7.  Humor.  Don’t lose your sense of it, and take advantage of every opportunity for a good laugh.  This may also include painting hilarious mental pictures of your worst case scenario, or dreaming up a ridiculously lavish version of your ideal life.  Watching a comedy when you’re feeling stressed is very therapeutic, and worth the effort of polling your friends for suggestions. Not taking yourself and your problems too seriously is crucial– it’s a slippery slope to a pity party.

8.  As a family, make a point of taking care of one another.  Give your spouse a good laugh, your kids extra hugs.  This is a time when stress can make everyone cranky– purposefully move in the opposite direction.  This doesn’t mean being in denial about how you feel (please, do tell someone!) but not letting it take over and ruin everyone’s day.  You and all family members really deserve some extra grace.

9.  Think of something you can do that is a good distraction when you are feeling anxious, but that you can also carry on with no matter where you go. A hobby, for example.  For me, it’s blogging. 🙂

10.  Do your best to stay soft and flexible, and to expect the best.  It is almost always harder to give up what you already know for something unfamiliar.  It rarely feels like a fair trade, but that’s only because it’s unknown.  Expect something great, and don’t get wrapped up in the details– it will all get done, and worrying doesn’t count as doing

OK, thanks for letting me hash out my plan here!  And if you are in a time of transition, hopefully you can use some help dealing with your own Uncertain Future Anxiety.

5 Responses to 10 Ways to Deal With Uncertain Future Anxiety

  1. Michelle | Bleeding Espresso January 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    Great plan, and I especially love the last one — it really doesn’t do anyone any good to expect the worst, so the opposite works just fine for me 🙂

  2. Gypmar January 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Excellent advice–I could have used this post several times in the past ten years 🙂

  3. Andrew January 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm #

    What a great and inspiring list. I’m going through several types of uncertain future and anxiety and I are really good friends from way back. So this is both timely and helpful.

  4. Jennifer Icenogle August 1, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

    I just happened to have stumbled upon your blog via a link to the stinging nettle post. 😀 funny…anyway… i totally get and understand the desire to be live as an expat….i came to West Afirca as a 19 year old to help a missionary family school their kids (who are now grown and have their own kids!). I met and married my husband(another missionary) here…had my first baby here…we moved back to the States to truly believing that God wanted us there…but all the while my heart ached for here. And so we returned almost two years ago…but now are faced again with repatriatizing. sigh…so this post about UFA really hit home with me today. We are leaving in three weeks…but i know this won’t be the end of our travels…yes, we are moving back to the U.S. but that doesn’t mean we need to stay there. Looking forward to what lies ahead! i’m going to be following you…as i have taken the time to look at things in England as well. Such a lovely place!

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  1. 2011-- The Year We Faced Our Fears | And Here We AreAnd Here We Are - March 30, 2014

    […] We spent the month looking for jobs all over the place, especially in Germany, and just trying to grapple with all of the uncertainty facing us without losing our ability to enjoy our day-to-day life.  By the end of the month, we realized […]

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