Dealing with uncertainty in uncertain times.

Jess Holliday
5 min readAug 4, 2020

In the latest episode of “COVID: A Pandemic, Season 2020”, the UK Government has changed the goalposts.

This is causing a renewed sense of worry. Words like purgatory, stagnation, confusion, flux, frustration! Collectively, we’re being pulled from pillar to post, things change every day, and understandably lots of people are feeling low. We need to take care of ourselves, take care of each other, and our mental health.

This virus is not going away anytime soon. Times are turbulent. Ironically, the only thing we know for certain is that things change. So why do we have a problem with this? Here are some ways to think about this, and a couple of specific strategies to help.

You can’t always get what you want

As Human Beings, we have a basic need for things to be constant, a need for certainty. And when they’re not we get agitated, and it makes us feel uneasy.

This is why so many want things to just “return to “normal”, so they can relax and have that need for certainty met.

On the one hand, this is about dealing with the stress on an acute level: ways to reduce the anxiety, lower the heart rate & blood pressure, alleviate the worry, alleviate the symptoms. And on the other hand, this is about healing the root cause of our suffering.

*What I need for you to understand is that stress (aka fear, doubt, worry) all come from not having our needs met.*

From not getting what we want.

Stress is our ego throwing its toys out the pram and stamping its foot.


Our stress comes from attachment, from wanting a specific outcome, in other words, a “craving” for what we (feel we) lack. The sense of something missing, something we must have or get. In this case, that’s stability or certainty.

When we learn to accept things for how they are and don’t force or want things to be a different way, we liberate the soul.

We create our own suffering by longing for what we DON’T have, rather than being content with the abundance we DO have.

This can put us into a victim consciousness — we blame the universe, someone else, the Government, we might even say “it’s not fair”. This just shows that our happiness is conditional because it’s attached to a particular outcome

This awareness gives us an opportunity to shift to an empowered state of consciousness by shifting our attention and expanding our minds. By also reassessing our attachment to programs or beliefs such as “I need a job to feel secure”, “money makes the world go round”.

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that we need to challenge these beliefs about how to live life.

Suffering, worry, doubt — all these come from our ego’s attachment to a particular “model” of reality — but is this the only version of reality that there is? What beliefs need to be challenged?

And be thankful. When we practice gratitude, what we focus on grows, and you start receiving more of that.


A useful strategy is to use the goal ladder, which has 5 steps.

The top-level is pure or abstract goals. Goals such as love, security, peace, health, the intangible needs that all our desires are geared towards meeting.

The next level down is grand goals. These are big life goals, a specific relationship, a new house or job, travelling. They’re often semi-abstract nature, but are different from the pure or abstract goals, by being specific to you and your circumstances.

In the middle level is behavioural goals. These are goals related to the kind of behaviours which are associated with our grand goals. When you have the grand goal, what will you be doing?

Below that is strategies. This is the “How” of your behavioural goal, the ways in which you support those behaviours.

And the bottom rung of the goal ladder is micro-strategies. These are very specific actions which support your strategies and behaviours.

So, at the moment we have a goal that’s beyond our control:

“I wish I could go back to work, but the Government has ruled that I can’t do that” or “I’m so fed up and tired of all this. I wish I could go back to work and get back to my normal routine.”

These are behavioural goals associated with the pure, top-level goal of security or peace.

From Security on the top rung, we can move down the ladder. Ask yourself: “How many different ways might I experience more security in my life?”.

Look to other places where you feel supported or secure, and amplify that. Focus more on opportunities, and attract those. Perhaps it’s simply spending time with people or family who support you, or an activity where you feel completely safe.

If it’s feelings of connection or purpose, one of the best ways to get out of your own head is to help others — so maybe you can get this from volunteering, or helping out in your local community, or simply making a phone call to people who need to talk.

The goal ladder helps you to identify the psychological needs that our currently ungrantable wishes cannot fulfil, and begin to meet those needs in ways that are within your control.

Carry your own weather, choose your response.

“If it can be remedied, why be upset about it?

If it cannot be remedied, what is the use of being upset about it?”

When something is stressful, try to slow down to observe your reactions to the situation.

Along with this acknowledgement, try to have feelings of compassion and support for yourself.

Be aware of how you might be adding suffering to your day, getting stressed about things that are out of your control or adding conditions to your happiness that can only be met by something outside of You.

Slow down, see if you can make a deliberate choice to stop fuelling and reinforcing this kind of suffering.

By understanding our stress can not only be managed, but also understood and released, seeing it as a guest bringing a message and just passing through, we learn to transcend it, liberate ourselves, and ultimately expand.

#suffering #nobletruths #covid #uncertainty #certainty #worry #doubt #ego #attachments #stressmanagement #reducingstress #neurodharma #dharma



Jess Holliday

I write about self-realisation, spirituality, consciousness, practical philosophy, life-hacks and productivity.