Your response to uncertainty

What is your response to the unexpected, the unplanned, and those things that are beyond your control?

Are you a planner?

Do you have a plan A, B, and C? Do you go with the flow and believe that everything will work out in the end?

What you do and how you react are very important, because most likely whatever you do are patterns of behavior in your life that are repeated in other settings such as at work, or in personal relationships.

Your response matters

Your response to the unexpected and/or anxiety effects not only you, but those around you as well. So, it is important to know what your responses are in times of stress in order to make appropriate adjustments.

Our responses to the unknown may vary depending on the situation.

We may know exactly what to do and how to assist someone else when they are dealing with the unexpected.

For example, you may be a great advocate for someone else but not be able to advocate for yourself when it is something of importance to you.

If it is hard to advocate for self, what is getting in the way of asking for what you need?

What do you do when you feel as though your world is falling apart?

An unexpected occurrence can feel like the end of the world.

The things that we cannot control can initially leave us feeling powerless and defeated.

When this happens we can experience a wide range of emotions: fear, anger, defeat, and we may wonder how this could be happening to us.

We may conduct a deep dive on the internet frantically looking for the answer to our problem. Sometimes we can even begin a bargaining process, and tell ourselves that if we just get through this one thing, then we will do…

This year has been a year of continually adapting and adjusting to a number of stresses and anxieties that are outside of our control.

Whether it was a loss of job, a loss of connection with others, or a loss of an activity that we previously enjoyed. It could even be returning to an activity that we do not feel ready to return to.

We have experienced a year in which we have continued to adapt, and adjust to the unexpected.

Over time we can feel defeated.

What do you do when someone gets close to activating emotional pain or anxiety?

How we react to emotional pain that feels unmanageable can say a lot about who we are at a given point in time.

We may be in a space where we are overwhelmed, and cannot accommodate one more thing.

You may even find yourself lashing out at others in anger.

It is important to know how we react to overwhelming stress, and anxiety so we can learn what we need to do in those moments when emotional pain has been activated.

Maybe we need to take a step back, leave, and then return to the conversation.

Maybe we need to take a walk, or speak with a trusted friend.

Most people have experienced loss this past year.

Sometimes the things that provided temporary comfort such as going to the gym, or going out with friends was unavailable for an extended period of time.

We need to keep in mind that we are wired with the expectation of seeing people.

When we are working from home, and do not interact with people on a regular basis, this can add a layer of isolation, and anxiety to what we were already experiencing.

Even though we are wired with the expectation of seeing people, interactions may feel more difficult when we do have them.

Being around people may feel less safe than it did before the pandemic.

Going to the grocery store may feel like an exercise in heightened stress, and anxiety (people getting too close, not respecting distance, not wearing a mask, etc.)

How do you face or confront challenging situations?

What you do and how you interact with others when in distress does say something about you.

Anyone can act, or behave in a way that is less than ideal.

However, it is important to navigate our own stress, and anxiety while not inflicting pain on others. Because, on some level most people are navigating anxiety in some way.

How we navigate stress and anxiety is complex, and changes depending on how we are feeling at the time.

We all make mistakes.

We may inadvertently cause emotional pain to someone else.

This is why it is important to know what our triggers are.

For example, if something that activates our anger involves being treated as though we do not matter, or we are less than in some way, it would be good to know that this is a feeling that we would not easily be able to brush off.

When a trigger has been activated we can behave in ways that are uncharacteristic of how we generally act when this emotional pain is activated.

Consider a time in which you felt blindsided by someone who treated you poorly, and think about how that felt.

You may have experienced heat rising in your face, anger, and then proceeded to say hurtful things to the person that activated this very deep wound.

Sometimes we react before we think about the consequences of the reaction.

We could say things that we are unable to take back. A line could have been crossed, and it may be difficult to repair the friendship or relationship as a result.

Now, there is an added layer of Emotional Pain

For most people, our world became smaller, and more secluded during this pandemic.

More people are working from home, and many people lost employment as well.

Everyday tasks such as going to the grocery store, or going to get a cup of coffee became more challenging.

These trips required more planning, and maybe feeling less connected with those around us.

Which is difficult, because we are wired to connect with others even in small ways.

These are deep layers of pain, stress, and anxiety; however, we are not meant to be in pain.

Navigating Stress and Anxiety

Keep in mind that no matter how slowly we move forward, we need to take steps forward.

Sometimes we take a few steps forward, and then need to take a step back.

We still need to show up, and how and when we show up, is a journey.


What is an indication that someone, or a situation is getting close to activating what feels like unmanageable stress and anxiety?

Make a list of 5 ways you have noticed that someone or something is getting close to activating extreme stress or anxiety:

Next, jot down 5 adaptive responses you do to navigate the situation:

(Note: you do not have to feel that the response is adaptive)

Another way of examining this question is how did I get through this anxiety, or stress at that time?