The Benefits of Getting Comfortable with Uncertainty

For most of us, feeling uncertain about situations, events, and possibilities creates a lot of stress. This is unfortunate, because we live in an inherently uncertain world. Like it or not, we simply can’t be sure about most of the details we’re going to encounter in our continually unfolding future.

This stress resulting from uncertainty takes a heavy toll on our emotions, our health, our intelligence, our capabilities, and – as a result – our productivity and success.

That’s why it’s helpful to learn how to reduce the stress you feel from uncertainty, and even get comfortable with it. This is fairly easy to do, and the benefits are enormous. Let’s discuss:

Find Gems Among the Discards

The urge to feel certainty when there is none leads to many mistakes, not the least of which is to overlook or ignore the many uncertain portions of the situations, events, and possibilities we normally encounter – portions that will sometimes contain valuable resources, information, experiences, and opportunities.

Only by embracing uncertainty can you cultivate a willingness to explore uncharted territories, which quite often can turn out to be prime real-estate for beneficial discoveries.

Build Confidence

Exploring uncharted territories is one of the best ways to test your capabilities and gain more confidence in them. You may not succeed at every challenge you encounter in these explorations. But neither are you likely to fail at every one.

In practice, every accomplishment you complete while exploring uncertain situations, events, and possibilities is another foundation stone on which you can build future explorations, prudent acceptance of challenges, and steadily increasing success.

Strengthen Creativity

Because you know what’s coming and have likely encountered it before, staying within the bounds of certainty helps you rely too much on unsubstantiated assumptions, conventional procedures, and comfortable routines. In contrast, embracing uncertainty stimulates you to create and refine novel approaches and responses to whatever may emerge in situations, events, and possibilities.

Like muscles, your creative abilities benefit from exercise and grow stronger with use. That’s why embracing uncertainty will generally enhance your creativity and improve your abilities to develop new and better ways to thrive amid future difficulties.


The main reason most of us shy away from uncertainty is simple: it feels uncomfortable. We’d rather be cozy at home, warming ourselves by the fire, spending time with those we love and trust, rather than roam the wilds of unexplored territories where surprises can lurk behind every rock and bush.

But when we make choices intended to keep us safe from unpleasant surprises, we also forgo the potential to encounter and benefit from pleasant ones.

Fortunately, we can overcome our discomfort with uncertainty through standard desensitization techniques:

  • Start by stepping gingerly into slightly ambiguous situations, events, and possibilities where you feel just a little uncomfortable, even if only for a few minutes.
  • Pay attention to where in your body you feel this reaction.
  • Afterwards, review how you felt during your experience with uncertainty, how you responded, and whatever results – good and bad – may have flowed from it.
  • Repeat this process, gradually accepting a little more uncertainty each time, recognizing and celebrating as the feeling of discomfort diminishes and/or you’re better able to tolerate it.

Along the way, you can reduce uncertainty’s power to stress you out by:

  • Focusing on elements you can control within the uncertain situation, event, or possibility,
  • Distracting yourself from the discomfort of uncertainty by consciously entertaining pleasant thoughts and/or promising yourself desirable rewards as soon as the uncertainty passes, and
  • Seeking support from colleagues, friends, and loved ones – it’s a natural antidote to the discomfort you feel from uncertainty.

Repeatedly exposing yourself to uncertainty in both your work and your life is an easy and useful way to get more comfortable with it. As you begin feeling less stressed by not knowing what’s going to happen next, you’ll find your emotions, health, intelligence, and capabilities will stay as strong as ever, allowing you to maximize your results and satisfaction no matter what you encounter.

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