Facing Tomorrow’s Unknown: Here’s What They Didn’t Teach Me

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Photo: BBC Science Focus Magazine

It’s triggering, when there’s no sense of routine. What do we do when we don’t know what to expect? The future brings uncertainty. We face tomorrow’s unknown by avoiding it. Overthinking, isolating ourselves and binge eating are some of the most common ways we cope. These attempts didn’t help me. Anxiety and fear was still creeping out.

I wasn’t prepared for what’s to come. While too busy trying to make demands meet

This was my typical approach, when facing tomorrow’s unknown. To cope with threats that came my way. I wasn’t prepared for facing tomorrow’s unknown, instead too busy trying to solve existing problems that came along the way. Maybe it was suitable because I was preventing the consequence of problem at hand but it left me feeling at a loss of control.

“What about tomorrow?” I asked myself. I turned hyper-vigilant and behaviorally avoidant, being uncertain. It feared me. I was anxious.

It was my own lack of action, that scared me about tomorrow’s unknown

It was a horrible idea to wait for the situation to occur for me to take action. This is when we experience anxiety and fear about facing tomorrow’s unknown. Literature shows a deep connection between anxiety disorders and uncertainty. There is an inflated sense of threat.

Sorrows, tragedies, misfortunes. I couldn’t explain or justify it. Neither could I choose what life gave me. I could only try to cope with it.

Identifying upcoming stressors beforehand and taking actions is what we as human beings are constructive in. It took me a while to realize this.

I made a list of situations that may occur, those that I expected to happen. Then I started to collect resources. I prepared myself by brainstorming several pathways I can use to cope effectively.

Questions I asked myself several times a day, or week.

  • “What small step can I take right now to make things a little bit better?”
  • “Options that have worked for me in the past”
  • “Alternatives that I can try incase that occurs?”

Things that I used to perceive as threatening. It began to look like a challenge. All my fears and anxieties washed away.

To me, it felt like keeping a toolbox handy

I encouraged myself to try out various strategies. Tools that have helped me in the past. Those that didn’t help me. Those that had the potential to help. I categorized each and stored them in. The goal was to match a coping strategy with the demands of situation.

My mind was no longer anxious but rather stimulated. Exploring various ways to meet my own goals, overcome potential threats and enjoy the journey of tomorrow.

Of course, a hot cup of chocolate won’t heal everything. Each time I feared myself to sleep, scared of a sudden death of my loved ones, anxious of losing my job: I’ll remind myself “get up and make a hot cup of chocolate.”

It was empowering, with a new courage for tomorrow’s unknown

Asking myself questions, collecting resources, brainstorming pathways, led me to a new sense of empowerment. I learnt to deal with situations that were not preventive anymore. Planning ahead became that form of coping which I adopted as a ritual.

I was prepared for the week ahead. Conflicts at work were tackled effectively by gathering resources. Social connections. Saved finances. Learning more about my environment.

Similarly, aging process, unexpected surgeries and relationship conflicts can be tackled by collecting resources such as learning about residential options, visiting a family therapist, learning about communication patterns, to select a particular retirement community and to develop social resources have been proven effective to cope with the aging/health process.

Unexpected situations no longer scare me. For I have my toolbox this time.

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