How to Stay Positive in Uncertain Times
Friends, I feel like we need to put something on the table right at the start of this post.
Because, based on the title, you probably came here with one question on your mind:
“How do I stay positive when my world takes a hard right into scary, overwhelming, uncertain territory?”
Believe it or not, I can answer that question in two words:
Yup, you heard that right.
When life is uncertain and scary, you don’t need to try to stay positive.
It’s unrealistic, and trying to force yourself to stay positive could even, ironically, take you to a very unhealthy place. When the world feels uncertain, we need kindness, patience, and grace; we don’t need to add more pressure to the moment by forcing ourselves to look on the bright side every minute.
Instead of trying to force yourself to be positive, I want to talk about how to bring yourself into a neutral space—one where you can focus on doing whatever you need to do to get through tough times in the healthiest way possible.
So if you want a positive way forward, you can stop reading right here. Sorry, this post isn’t it.
If you want to talk about a healthy way forward, one avoids causing more harm to yourself and others, let’s get down to it because that’s the conversation I want to have.
Accept that there’s no such thing as a problem-free life.
I’m going to be real with you—this first step is probably the toughest.
Because as humans, this just isn’t the way we’re built. We want to find solutions. We want to believe that if there’s a problem, we can solve it. We want to be able to plan our way out of every hard time.
But the world just doesn’t work that way.
Life is hard, and it’s uncertain. No matter how hard we work to try and fix it. No matter how much we want to believe we’re in control.
The world isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people. There is prejudice and judgment. There are some just downright mean people, and sometimes those same people end up wildly successful.
I realize that sounds like the exact opposite of being positive, right? That might sound like big-time doom and gloom.
I don’t see it that way, though.
I see it as freeing.
Because if we can accept the fact that the world can be a scary place, we can acknowledge our starting point.
Acceptance doesn’t mean we have to like it. Acceptance doesn’t mean that we’re throwing in the towel on trying to make the world better. Acceptance doesn’t mean that all of the bad things that happen are okay.
Acceptance is about bringing ourselves into a space of clarity because we’re grounded in the reality of what is.
Once we accept that starting point, we can choose how to respond to that reality.
Accepting the reality of the situation is the first step to reclaiming your power and moving forward.
Proactively prepare for tough times.
Once we accept that life is going to be full of ups and downs and uncertainties and curveballs, we free up a whole lot of mental and emotional space.
Think about how much energy we dedicate to avoiding negative experiences, when the reality is that lots of times we have very little control over what happens to us.
But if we can accept that tough times are unavoidable, we can shift that energy to more productive responses.
Because at the end of the day, it’s not the experiences themselves that shape us. It’s how we respond to those experiences.
Instead of spinning your wheels trying to avoid uncertainty, you can start to equip yourself with the skills you need to get through those tough times.
Think of it this way…
Imagine you’re out in the middle of the ocean in a sailboat. You’ve spent months planning this trip, plotting out just the right route to take to get to your destination.
Suddenly you find yourself in a terrible storm. Your boat is being tossed around in the waves, and you need to make some quick decisions about what to do—how to respond.
Would you continue on your original path and keep pushing against the currents? Would you spend your energy trying to resist the wind?
Or would you adjust your sails? Would you do what was necessary to make it easier to maneuver in the stormy water?
Life works the same way. The skills that will serve us best in moving forward are the ones that help us adjust to new realities. Otherwise we waste energy trying to fight things that are outside of our control. We can wear ourselves down with all of that tension because we will always be resisting instead of finding new ways to flow.
You’ll be able to find that flow more quickly if you dedicate energy to building a mindset and a toolbox focused on resilience, mental strength, and self-care.
Flex your skills (and learn new ones).
Uncertain times can be scary, but here’s the good news—they are also fertile places for growth.
Everything that you are will be tested, but when you choose to step up, when you choose to practice those skills you’ve learned, you will grow.
When you find yourself in the middle of tough times, you can choose to allow yourself to be swallowed up by the worry, the frustration, the disappointment, the sadness. You can choose to believe that they will destroy you.
Or you can choose to dig into your toolbox and use the skills you’ve learned—and learn new ones. You can choose to check in with yourself—take a deep breath, trust your intuition, weigh your options.
When you flex your skills, those uncertain times will help you level up. You become better. Stronger. Wiser. More creative.
You learn how to find flow more quickly and spend less time stuck in the feeling of struggle and defeat.
Yes, it'd be nice to be positive and thrive in the face of adversity, but that’s not always possible. When life throws you a curveball, it’s okay to let yourself feel what you feel. The key is to do whatever you need to do to get through hard times in the healthiest way possible.
Uncertainty tests who you are, my friend. Accept it and then embrace it. Because your response can move you closer to who you want to be.