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The inability to tolerate uncertainty plays a huge role in anxiety and worry. Chronic worriers can’t stand doubt or unpredictability. They need to know with 100 percent certainty what’s going to happen. Worrying is seen as a way to predict what the future has in store?a way to prevent unpleasant surprises and control the outcome. The problem is, it doesn’t work.

Thinking about all the things that could go wrong doesn’t make life any more predictable. You may feel safer when you’re worrying, but it’s just an illusion. Focusing on worst-case scenarios won’t keep bad things from happening. It will only keep you from enjoying the good things you have in the present. So if you want to stop worrying, start by tackling your need for certainty and immediate answers.

Accepting uncertainty: The key to anxiety relief

To understand the problems of refusing to accept uncertainty, ask yourself the following 4 questions and write down your responses.

- Is it possible to be certain about everything in life?

- What are the advantages of requiring certainty, versus the disadvantages? Or, how is needing certainty in life helpful and unhelpful?

- Do you tend to predict bad things will happen just because they are uncertain? Is this a reasonable thing to do? What is the likelihood of positive or neutral outcomes?

- Is it possible to live with the small chance that something negative may happen, given its likelihood is very low?

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