Living with Uncertainty – How Emotional Intelligence can help you cope.

It is a well-known fact that we have always lived in the VUCA world – that Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity are part of our environment. But nothing has put it to our plain view like the COVID-19 situation that we are currently going through. The level of VUCA-ness has sky-rocketed to heights that probably our generation has never experienced in our lifetime.

While we are trying to live with the new norms of Remote Working, Digital Conversions, Virtual Meetings et al, one of the critical factors that can help us deal with this is – Emotional Intelligence. Mental Health has, understandably, been a concern for us today more than ever with people being confined within the walls of their homes, job market conditions going awry, falling apart of routines, lack of social interactions and what not.

Let’s look at some of the crucial factors that we can consciously implement and habituate ourselves to in order to be Emotionally Intelligent and gain the capacity to tackle our present situation:

  • Acceptance of Uncertainty – We are inherently tuned to reduce the uncertainty in our lives. It is an inherent human quality to worry about our future. It gives us a fake sense of being certain about our lives, while the fundamental truth about life is that it is uncertain. It has always been so, the COVID has just made it more real for us. While it is important to cater to our innate need for order in and around us, it is futile to assume that we can completely eliminate uncertainty from our lives. Many of us use constant worrying as a tool to reduce the sense of uncertainty which we fear and refuse to live with. We feel that by thinking about the problems, we are solving the issues and getting ourselves ready to face it if and when it attacks us. But the fact is, worrying about the problems is not the efficient way of handling them, let alone solving them. Being Emotionally Intelligent means that we understand that Life is uncertain and that by worrying about it, we only lose our energy. There is no way we can deal with a problem by worrying about it. It is better to accept the reality and conserve our energy to face the problems when they come by. You can try these techniques:
    • Concentrate on your present and be aware of your environment, the changes and consciously accept them.
    • Be conscious of the times when you start worrying and stop yourself right there – instead try and look at the situation at hand. You will feel more empowered to deal with reality when you see it for what it is.
    • Realize the possibilities that the situation has provided you and feel grateful for the life you have.
  • Relinquish the need to Control – Something about reflecting our past gives us a sense of control and the illusion that we have solutions to all our problems even as we keep rewinding our past mistakes. It makes us feel that it is easy to tackle life situations and therefore feel a sense of control over our lives. Emotionally Intelligent people understand the fact that they cannot change the past. It is very critical to relinquish our need to be in control, because the fact is that we cannot always be in control of life. We have to live life – in the present, feeling the sense of helplessness and no control is crucial in order to live a full-fledged life. Emotional Intelligence lies in accepting this fact of life.
    • One of the ways to stop living in the past is to take action in the present by doing something that is useful for you or people around you.
    • With this sense of purpose in the present, one can develop a sense of acceptance which is very critical to be emotionally intelligent.
  • Setting Realistic Expectations – It is very easy to forget the fact that we are in a Pandemic situation while going about fulfilling our duties at work or with family. With our set routines and mindsets of achieving high, it is possible that we are setting very high expectations for ourselves even during the Pandemic. The fact is that realities are changing around us and normal life is being redefined. What’s more, each of us is as clueless about it as the other. It is only adding mental pressure when we have high expectations from ourselves – whether it is about over-achieving targets at work or cooking a spectacular meal every day. It will do us a world of good to re-look at our own lives and plan with the limited resources at hand. This is not to say that we can’t give our best. But it is essential in order to keep our mental stability and sanity that we understand and accept the fact that times are not the old-normal, and it is important to keep our expectations regarding our own productivity, realistic.
    • Stop creating stories in your head about how you have to finish a job at hand or reach a high target easily – it only adds pressure, frustration and disappointment when you are not able to meet those standards or fail at a task.
    • See yourself at the point that you are and accept it. By dreaming about being able to achieve more in order to feel better, you are only adding to the mental pressure for yourself.

Emotional Intelligence is not necessarily a natural trait that one is born with. It is a skill that one can acquire by being aware of self-defeating thoughts and behavior. By opening up to the reality of our present situation, accepting it whole-heartedly and not indulging in compulsive thoughts of bigger, better life, we can all be far more competent in handling our new-normal that we are faced with today.

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