Becoming Resilient to Uncertainty in a Fast-Changing World

By Gilbert Ross on Thursday February 18th, 2021

Image: Josh Hild

Why We Need to Build Our Resilience

We are living with more uncertainty than we ever experienced before both individually and collectively, and this uncertainty translates into forms of anxiety and its associated conditions so prevalent in our times.

The future has always been uncertain for people of all times, geography and culture. There was never a time when people lived in the comfort of knowing what tomorrow or next year was going to bring forth. There were of course times of relative peace, but not certainty of a known future. Yet we live in a world where the rate of change is unprecedented in both scale and complexity. In other words, we are living with more uncertainty than we ever experienced before both individually and collectively, and this uncertainty translates into forms of anxiety and its associated conditions so prevalent in our times.  

Now is the time to use resilience to deal with whatever is happening around us, so we can navigate life’s ever-increasing waves of change with less struggle and, more importantly, with ease and grace.
But first I want to uncover what it is about this world we currently live in that is creating so much anxiety, crises and breakdowns in our mental and emotional health in general. We find ourselves approaching the knee of a sharp exponential growth curve that affects all areas of human life – cultural, technological, political, economical – down to the day-to-day life of the average world citizen. No one is exempted from experiencing this change or being affected by it in one way or another. Our growth in knowledge and innovation leaps in communication technology, cross-fertilization of ideas and less borders between cultures, topped up with a much faster pace of life, are all common factors that contributed to this unprecedented rate of change. 

Now uncertainty and apparent instability triggers the fear of the unknown and this is one of the deepest fears in the collective human psyche.

What we need to understand first is that change begets more change and so it comes to a point where the acceleration accelerates and this is the definition of exponential change. That’s where we find ourselves right now – and more of it yet to come. 

Alt text hereChange is the only thing we can be certain of. Image: Chris Lawton

Now, uncertainty and apparent instability trigger the fear of the unknown and this is one of the deepest fears in the collective human psyche. Take for instance the global pandemic that we have been experiencing for several months, and perhaps by the time you are reading this article, even longer. The uncertainty brought about by this state of affairs on a global scale shook the ground beneath our feet to an extent that split the seams in all areas of social life. People, who lost friends and family, jobs and social independence, as we know it, experienced some form of crisis. Yet, some were resilient enough to shake it off quickly and be almost entirely unaffected by it even as its effects grew more severe and widespread. Others did not.  

Uncertainty of the future is the lack of predictability and control of what and when the next global shaker will be. This of course scares people and creates even more anxiety to the detriment of our health and of not being able to take objective and clear decisions about our life. Yet we do not need to be smarter or better in predicting future outcomes. This is a futile task because change is becoming faster and more complex and also because there are greater chances of encountering black swans, such as the Covid pandemic. What we need, therefore, is to learn to become more resilient in the face of hyper change and uncertainty.  

What resilience really means is the ability to not only endure fast and sudden change but also to bounce back quickly into living healthily and without fear, even when it hits the hardest. If we are to go through even faster and unpredictable change, resilience is the best tool in the box we can make use of.  

The most important perspective to change is that nothing is permanent and everything is subject to change. Accepting this fundamental notion is the groundwork for further action.

Becoming more resilient entails taking certain steps and actions that build up our psychological immunity over time the more we practice them. Here are some key points in summary:  

Shift Your Perspective on Change

Most inner change starts from a shift in perspective because the way we perceive the world is the most fundamental component that makes up our reality, and therefore, if we want to change how we perceive our reality, we need to change our point of view, hence our perspective. The most important perspective to adopt is that nothing is permanent and everything is subject to change. Accepting this fundamental notion is the groundwork for further action.  

Alt text hereIf we want to change how we perceive our reality, we need to change our point of view. Image: Connor Bowe

The hurt, pain and suffering that come from drastic change or loss is our attachment to things and situations that stir up our resistance to change. If we are constantly aware that change is a fact of life, we are more serene and show less resistance when change happens. This is fundamental to resilience.  

Surrender The Need for Control

With regards to resistance to change, we also need to change our attitude on trying to control life, the future or situations that happen to us. This is a second important fact of life. You can’t stop change and therefore you cannot control it. Like resistance, trying to control change brings more friction and suffering. Surrendering the need to control what happens around you through equanimity, poise and clarity rather than through reaction and fear means you will always have a resilient position that doesn’t succumb to panic and fear when the next big unknown arises.  

Find The Support of Your Tribe

As the world becomes seemingly more chaotic and change is harder to manage in our everyday lives, we need more support than ever before. It is evident that as individuals it will become increasingly hard to navigate the future alone. We need to connect with our tribe – people, friends and family that we feel comfortable with, resonate with us on many levels, and that share similar perspectives. The more support we have, the easier it becomes to manage change, even of the drastic kind.  

Become An Opportunist

Resilience has also something to do with not being stiff and inflexible in a way that you can easily switch lanes and hop onto other stepping-stones quickly when the opportunity arises. We need to learn to become opportunists in the positive sense of the term. This is not a time to be rigid and inflexible. The faster the change, the more flexible you need to be and therefore the more resilient you become because you are not stuck crying over what has now changed but you are already riding the next wave.   

Alt text hereWe need to connect with our tribe. Image: Kimson Doan

Look beyond Your Needs – Get Out of The Way

Another common trait that brings about more pain and suffering than is necessary when things suddenly change is taking everything personally and being stuck in the ‘me, me, me’ victimhood mentality. In order to build even more resilience and cope with chaos, you need to step out of the way. Become good at freeing yourself up quickly from the subjective viewpoint. The more we are able to look at things objectively outside of ‘what is going to happen to me’ point of view, the softer and easier things appear and actually become.  

Good Vibes Are to Be Shared

Everybody goes through cycles – ups and downs, good and bad, highs and lows. Yet not everyone goes through them at the same time, right? So if we had to give people emotional support and strength when we are rolling on some good vibes, others will do the same when we hit that next trough. This has to do with finding support in your tribe, as mentioned above, but even outside of it. Even some random stranger we casually meet can rub off some good vibes on us and we can do the same to others.  

Love Yourself More

A constant in personal growth and development is Self-love and a lot can be said about the subject and its importance to our happiness and survival as a species. If we loved ourselves more, in any way possible, it would result in 90% of our problems not being there anymore. That is how big Self-love is. The same thing applies to becoming resilient in a fast-changing world. We need to love ourselves more first because if we do, we better understand that whatever we go through is OK, since we got the very basics right. 

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.




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8 Responses to Becoming Resilient to Uncertainty in a Fast-Changing World

  1. This article has uplifted me. For me it is consoling and energizing propelling to do greater exploits amidst the uncertainty around. Yesterday is gone, today is a present/gift and tomorrow is yet to come.

  2. I found this to be one of the best articles – with the times we are living in… now! I am focusing on building and strengthening my resilience Thank You!

    • Good on you Betty! Definitely an important thing to focus on, building our resilience. So glad you found the article helpful 🙂

      Team UPLIFT

  3. Very true in a ever present world need for change and the process of meaningful activity and finding purpose in the purpose in the present matters being the change being less self less be evolving gaining insight and revelation how we react to circumstances will be the stepping stones to crossing barriers and opening channels of better navigation points of reference a to future mapping and having better aspects of communication and authenticity

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