The only thing we know for sure is that very little is certain. Even so, western society bombarded you with the idea that it is possible to keep everything under control. And encourages you to strive to find solutions to all your problems quickly and efficiently. Our society does not promote what is critical to adaptation: knowing how to deal with uncertainty.
Dealing with uncertainty means just that: dealing with a lack of certainty and the need for spontaneous plan changes. You can try to repair any defects and find an answer to any question. But unfortunately that is impossible, because sometimes answers and solutions only come with time. Others are just impossible to find. Humanity doesn’t know everything. What we don’t know is actually more than what we know.
All of our readers will probably agree that this is true. In practice, however, we do not see this correspondence. Some people are unable to deal with uncertainty. It makes them anxious and irritable. You just can’t tolerate them.
“I didn’t know peace until I shed all knowledge with contempt and came to the conclusion that it was impossible to affirm or reject anything.”
What if I can’t handle uncertainty?
People who cannot handle uncertainty strive for what we call a cognitive degree. The last word, so to speak. You need clearly defined spaces. Black or white. Yes or no. They have a lot of stress if they are not given clear answers because the cognitive degree implies certainty: “Do you love me or not?”
You want the answer to always be absolutely yes or absolutely no. It is difficult for them to understand that reality is in between. Ambiguity and paradox are unbearable for these people because they cannot deal with uncertainty. They see it as a lie, a deception, a way to cover up the truth. The bad news for these types of people is that we can – with reasonable certainty – say that our world is painted in many shades of gray. We hardly find black and white.
If people can’t handle uncertainty, it’s likely because they’re simplifying reality. They have limited explanations for what is going on around them. Either one or the other is responsible for it, never an indefinable middle thing. People who see the world this way find it difficult to hypothesize what they perceive to be. Likewise, it is difficult for them to accept that something is impossible to understand, at least for the moment.
For example, they cannot understand that the same event could be the result of many different circumstances. If a person is not interested in reading, it is not necessarily because they are uncultivated. There could be a thousand reasons why she does what she does.
If you ca n’t handle uncertainty, it usually means a lack of empathy as well. People with this deficiency see the world only on their own terms. This makes it very difficult to accept differences as there is no consensus on what is “right”. They also believe that relationships, families, and communities can only work if they come to an agreement.
How do you deal with uncertainty?
Tolerance of uncertainty manifests itself in the inability to accept that there is no single right answer. People who can handle uncertainty don’t get anxious or restless if they don’t get answers right away. They just accept that fact and move forward with the information they have. They focus on solving the part of the problem that they understand. When new elements come into the picture, they are alert and use them to find out what is actually happening and how to improve their approach.
Another thing people who can handle uncertainty do is a thorough analysis of the facts. They don’t stay on the surface; they try to go deeper. In doing so, they discover that things are more complex than they seem at first glance. This makes it easier for them to understand how difficult it is to give definitive answers.
Interestingly, people with a lower tolerance for uncertainty are more confident in their decisions. In contrast, those who have high tolerance take longer to make decisions. Most of the time, they did their research before acting and realized that there is some risk in every alternative.