Dealing with Uncertainty

By Dana & Ellen Borowka

It can be very easy to feel shaken, when a part of our lives seems uncertain.  If we get yelled at, honked at while driving, or when personal or professional relationships feel unsteady. If our financial situation, the economy, international or local community seems to be on edge, or if we ofc on worldexperience a loss, that can all lead to feeling as if the carpet has just been pulled out from underneath us. What we thought was solid, now feels shattered and fragile. Some may go with the flow and just figure life has its ups and downs. While others may be devastated and can barely get up in the morning.  How can we deal with these situations when they come up, so that we don’t shut down?

Dealing with change

Sometimes we just need to be patient and supportive with ourselves, like taking a break and realizing life may not look the same as it did before.  People, who had been in a close relationship, may not be available to us in the same way.  Things do change; the earth is not standing still. It is constantly moving and rotating, yet as human beings we look for some form of stability.  We may need to reframe for ourselves how we view the core of our existence and that can be very scary.  However, if we are basing our security on how we think things should be when that is founded on shaky ground, then we need to begin with what we are really looking for. Sometimes evaluating our core values can be very helpful. Gaining greater insight into ourselves can help us to grow to meet the challenges.

The 1994 California Northridge earthquake

Most of us recall the 1994 Northridge earthquake that caused major damage not only in Northridge but also in many outlying areas like Santa Monica. Many residential buildings in Santa Monica were severely damaged where residents were not allowed back into their homes. The building, where we lived at the time, was badly damaged and we were concerned if it would be red tagged. Like many people during this crisis, we felt much uncertainty of what would happen to our home. Yet, we took some decisive steps to bring a level of stability to our situation and reduce the anxiety.

Tips for finding stability

We’ve come up with several ideas for you to consider when things in our lives seem to be unsteady:

  • Seek support. It is important to reach out to others not only for friendship and personal connection, but also to get feedback on what is going on in one’s life.   It’s also very helpful to get a reality check so to keep problems in perspective.  After the earthquake, we sought out friends who provided support and ideas in dealing with the challenging situation as well as insisting in helping us to clean up and repair the damage to our home.  One friend invited us to stay with her overnight, made dinner for us and even brought bottled water for our little bird!  Connection with others helps us to take the steps to deal with our challenges.
  • Maintain a routine to help provide a feeling of stability.  Be sure to do the things that bring you joy and to take care of yourself.  Sometimes, people stop doing their hobbies or exercise when things feel unstable.  Yet, it’s those things that can help to bring down the stress level.  If you go to the gym or enjoy a book club, then keep doing that.  Don’t stop living.  In fact, seek out various ways to reduce your stress, like renting a movie or going to the beach.  However, avoid relying on addictive substances or habits like drugs, alcohol or food to deal with your concerns.
  • Don’t let fear consume you.  Worrying about something never seems to make the problem or concern go away or even to make the situation better.  Find ways to vent that anxiety, whether through talking with a friend or going for a walk.  Again, getting another view point on the situation may help to bring that mountain of fear down to a people on worldmole hill or something that you are comfortable in managing.  After the earthquake, we were very concerned that we might lose our home.  Yet, we took proactive steps to reduce the fear.  We talked with a structural engineer and others to gain perspective on the situation.  We spent time with friends and neighbors, not only to talk about what happened, but also to provide support to others.
  • Find your center.  A boat is more secure when anchored or tied to something whether a buoy or dock.  The same is true for us.  We can weather the challenges of life better when we have a foundation, something solid to lean upon.  That may involve strong family or friendship ties, deep spiritual beliefs and study or using some kind of practice like mediation or yoga or hikes to center one’s self.
  • Make small improvements.  There may be things you can do to bring more stability, to reduce the stress level or create a more productive, satisfying environment for yourself.  Look around and discover what small goals you can develop for yourself.  It may be finding ways to show appreciation to your co-workers or clients, improving a system at work or starting up a personal hobby at home.

We would love to hear from you as what you do to help yourself get through hard times and to bring balance back into your life.  If you send your ideas back to us, we’ll share them in future Keeping on Track publications.

How to deal with uncertainty for staff

We have found that companies can assist their staff members during uncertain times by addressing those issues during team meetings.  Here are some tips for connecting with staff to reduce stress:

♦ Provide an open forum to address concerns.
♦ Explore any issues with productivity or staff morale.
♦ Do reality checks and address media rumors and economic/business concerns.
♦ Discuss business and personal opportunities for new markets, valuing the customer and appreciating those close to us.
♦ Explore next steps – some positive ways to deal with concerns.

Approaching our challenges

The main objective is to not let fear control us and to not allow it to control our professional or personal lives. Every day brings new challenges. The best way to approach these challenges is to not react, but know that there are solutions and options. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in planting bizwomanmoments of comfort, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”

We can learn from our challenges, we can learn new ways to work through issues and concerns. Instead of reacting to a problem or fear, we can ask ourselves: What can I do differently to handle this? What can I learn from this? When things feel uncertain, the temptation may be to hide under the covers or lash out at someone or something that has nothing to do with the issue. We may look at the problem with a dismal perspective, when we may need to view things with a realistic viewpoint.

Challenges become opportunity

Uncertain times push us outside of our comfort zone and no one likes that. John F. Kennedy once said, “When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents the danger and the other represents opportunity.” It is during those challenging times that we learn the most, gain the most insight into ourselves. Then we experience a great sense of accomplishment… overcoming the fear of uncertainty, the fear of the unknown.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO and Ellen Borowka, MA, Senior Analyst of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC with their organization constantly remain focused on their mission statement – “To bring effective insight to your organization”.  They do this through the use of in-depth work style assessments to raise the hiring bar so companies select the right people to reduce hiring and management errors.  They also have a full service consulting division that provides domestic and international interpersonal coaching, executive onboarding, leadership training, global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training, operational productivity improvement, 360s and employee surveys as well as a variety of workshops. They have over 25 years of business and human behavioral consulting experience. They are nationally renowned speakers and radio personalities on this topic. They are the authors of the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”. To order the books, please visit

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA  90403, (310) 453-6556, & our website:

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.  Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.