• Brad Clinard

Processing Uncertainty

How are you really doing right now?

Most of us have never lived during a pandemic, so likely you are unsure about what comes next as we all face the Coronavirus. Our brains are wired to crave certainty. If we could make the world the way we wanted, we might choose 90% certainty and 10% uncertainty, just to keep life from getting boring.

We know most people’s first concern is the safety of family and friends. However, many people are also worried about their finances. We want to ask a simple question: Why is it that it feels so bad when our investments go down?

The story you will be told if you listen to the news or latest push message is that the fear is caused by the virus. Maybe the corona virus is just the symptom, the trigger and not the deeper truth.

At the very core people desire to feel three things:

1. to feel loved,

2. to feel a sense of belonging and

3. to feel safe.

Society has led most people to hold an unconscious mental narrative that equates money with safety, i.e., if we only have enough money we will be able to protect ourselves from XYZ…( enter your fear). If this similar to your mental narrative then when the markets falls, a core sense of your identity may be injured and with that pain comes fear. It is normal and expected to feel some fear at moments like these.

However, fear that is not checked can lead to panic. Panic occurs when we have lost a sense of agency. For those who lose this battle panic may mean selling or buying all the toilet paper. When we lose agency, we become overwhelmed by the false belief that “all this is happening to me.” Agency is defined as the ability to act as an effective agent for yourself—reflecting, making creative choices, and constructing a meaningful life. When we embrace agency, we are open to adjusting and updating our beliefs periodically. In difficult moments, this allows us to see things as they are, and allows us to regain a sense of grounding by controlling what is within our control.

For those who are both prepared and remain calm, stay alert but not panicked and remembering your plan. Science also says it is also wise to spend time in states of gratitude and, as cliché as it is, to breathe deeply. We don’t know what is next, but we are here for you if you need us. Take a moment today to reflect on the things you are grateful for regardless of the challenges we face. You may find it is enough to help boost your well-being. Last, make sure you connect to family and friends (virtually). It is connection will help you feel the sense of love and belonging that you desire in the face of uncertainty.