Life has a lot of uncertainties in it. If you have a special needs child, sibling, or loved one, you know the feeling. Whether it regards their developmental stages or physical health, it can be scary to not know what’s going to happen. Uncertainty, when it comes to your loved one, can feel looming.

What is uncertainty?

Quite simply, uncertainty is defined as not knowing. Humans face uncertainty all of the time. There are a lot of small parts of daily routines that involve uncertainty, like figuring out which socks to wear every morning. But big uncertain times can really test a person’s patience and give them some anxieties.

Why do we fear it?

Not knowing how something will turn out can sometimes lead anyone to think of a spiral of hypothetical scenarios that may or may not happen. Your brain can make connections to help you mentally and emotionally prepare for every possible outcome. However, this overwhelming sense of caution can be exhausting. We fear uncertainty because our brains are hard-wired for a fight or flight response and overly cautious. Those impulses served us well in primitive times when we had to scrounge for our food instead of just scrolling on Instagram while Postmates or Uber Eats brings Panera to your house. So fearing the unknown isn’t something that we need to do to survive anymore. The anxiety you may get from not certainly knowing the outcome of a situation is a bit of a challenge to overcome.

How can we overcome it?

Relieving anxiety about uncertainty is a lot easier said than done. No amount of “stay positive” Pinterest mantras are 100% effective in relieving anxiety. You can say “stay positive” or “keep your head up” until you’re blue in the face, but actively seeking positivity is a practice that can help.

Whether your child is struggling in school or a special needs loved one’s health is in question, you actively need to seek positive things about uncertain and scary situations. You may have heard the cliché about counting blessings, but gratitude in uncertain times can be a life-changing thing. It can help make sense of things that are scary. Write it down, meditate on it, repeat it to yourself… whatever works for you.

Accepting what you don’t know and cannot change is a tried and true method of getting through uncertainty. Whatever is meant to be, will be. Now while we aren’t encouraging complacency in moments where change needs to happen, the idea of understanding that sometimes things fall into place as they should is one that is crucial to accept.

In a lot of situations that regard your special needs child, you are not alone. Finding support groups, whether in real life or on social media, can also be a huge help. That way, you may be able to find people who have had similar experiences to you. Learning about other people’s shared experiences can really alleviate some of the anxiety about uncertainty.

Comparison is the thief of joy

One thing that people tend to do in times of uncertainty is compared their lives or struggles to that of another individual. Comparing people’s experiences to yours can ultimately be destructive. Everyone’s life, situation, and experiences are different, so it doesn’t make sense to compare yourself to someone else.

Turn off the internet and hang out with your friends and family that have your back in the tough times. There’s something to be said about seeking face-to-face interactions and support.

Know when to get help

If uncertainty is overwhelming to the point of extreme anxiety, repeated thoughts of anxiety or uncertainty or panic attacks, it may be time to seek additional help. Finding a therapist or a psychiatrist in that situation is important to your own mental health. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help! Everyone needs a little TLC sometimes.