How do we change when we feel so afraid & uncertain?

“All great changes are preceded by chaos.” – Deepak Chopra

These are certainly trying times for most of us. Many have never faced such strong feelings of fear and uncertainty before. I believe the point though is not to run away and hide your head in easy distractions, but stop and spend some time seeing what you might learn from your fears at this moment in time. Perhaps you have been considering some major life changes up until this point. This is the crisis that might help you decide that this is time to move forward with those changes.


The fact is, most of us will not begin to change anything until we become uncomfortable enough to admit defeat. Most of us need to be absolutely convinced that the “plan” we’ve had for life up until now is simply not working. The way this usually comes about is through a crisis that demands our complete attention. Divorce, serious illness, the death of a loved one, and long-term unemployment seem to be the most common events that lead to the end of our naïve belief that we have control over everything that happens in our lives. These unforeseen and often unforeseeable occurrences can inform us in no uncertain terms that changes in our plan are now in order.

We may first try to defend against the onset of pain and confusion by denying or ignoring this sudden lack of certainty or security in our lives. We may seek to escape into any number of easy distractions, as we defend against our need to feel more secure.

Eventually we may discover that, even though it seems completely counter-intuitive at this tough spot, accepting and embracing the chaos and uncertainty we feel surrounded by is our first, best step towards peace. Stop, sit down and be quiet for a while. Begin to feel the enormity of this crisis of fear and uncertainty. But this may also be one of your most important opportunities to trust in the power of your own psyche to survive and thrive in the future.

Know that this is the beginning of your own personal rite of passage into full adulthood. This is the natural, normal stage of human development studied by psychologists since Carl Jung, when he experienced it himself. Recognize that you are not the first to feel chaos and uncertainty in your middle years. You are in a well-documented transition period of personal change, growth, and human evolution. And the best way to move through this life stage smoothly is to embrace the new information and knowledge you will be given.

By allowing this in, you have the ability to access the unique instruction this moment has for you. Instead of attempting to run from it, embrace the uncertainty.

Begin to believe this moment is giving you access to your own unique brand of power, one you may have never known or acknowledged before. Begin to see: You alone know, somewhere inside, what needs to happen next.

Spend the time necessary to listen to the small, still voice within, the one you may have been ignoring for decades. Recognize this voice—perhaps for the first time—as your inner guide, brimming with accumulated information and wisdom. This source knows where you need to go next. It will instruct you in how you must change, grow, and evolve into your best self in this moment. The sooner you begin to believe in its power and trust this valuable inner resource, the sooner you will follow its instructions and find more structure, certainty, and peace in your life.

This is a short excerpt from my book: Find Your Reason To Be Here: The Search For Meaning in Midlife. Please contact me if you would like to purchase your own copy:

E-book and some paperback versions are available through Amazon

5 thoughts on “How do we change when we feel so afraid & uncertain?

  1. Words of wisdom. The world slows down and none of us are living the lives we thought we would be living today. As someone who was a history major initially in college, it’s almost like I am split in two. Part of me watches history in action as an observer. The other part is me, facing mortality (in days, will I be one of those on a ventilator in an overcrowded hospital, separated from my family?) fearful for my family members who are elderly, battling cancer, and/or in the medical field (one of my first cousins is an experienced ER doctor in a major city in Illinois)…..Governor Cuomo of New York teaches us that we will all be changed. And, on the bright side, I am no longer waking up at 3am fearful of what is happening. I have sound some peace with the situation. But not enough peace.


    • Yes Alana. How do we find peace with all of this uncertainty? I believe it has to do with finding peace with our lack of control. Since I let go of that illusion of control, I have found some peace, even with death.


  2. My whole life has been a process of change. I’ve moved many times, lost 2 men to cancer, and worked in an unpredictable industry. I see it as a challenge and have become able to adapt. I think it’s harder for people who haven’t been through it as much. They’ve been in the same house all their lives and had plenty of family, friends, and neighbors around them. It’s true that your inner voice is powerful. I wish you good luck with your book. It sounds amazing. I’d love to get a copy after I move and have settled in.


  3. Here I am again. Building on what I said in March, I’m still searching, trying to find my footing in a world that brings a seismic tremble every few days, wondering what my role is supposed to be, especially on this Independence Day (for us in the United States) and its associated events.


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