Advice & Resources, Autism Insights, My Journey

My “What I Know” List and How It Helps Cope with Uncertainty

~ Inspired by Life on the Spectrum’s Facebook post~

“What I Know”… well what I know that by sharing this tip on Facebook was worth doing, and many seemed genuinely interested in it. So much so, that for this week’s blogpost I’m sharing some insight into where the idea came from, how it’s changed the way I look at uncertain situations and why I continue to use it in my journaling practice. So, buckle up it’s going to be an insightful ride!

The Explanation Behind It:

Life can seem intimidating in adulthood, and as things become more complicated it can be harder to make out what we actually know of ourselves or life as it is constantly changing and the experiences we have too seem more complex. As an adult still navigating this stage of life I can attest to that and the anxiousness that comes from not knowing but wanting to know and have control over what goes in one’s personal experiences. This can be especially true, when it comes to things like navigating relationships, figuring out how to become independent, surviving a job, getting one- which is equally uncertain- pursuing bigger goals or just getting by. All are rather big steps into independence. and a part of a life long process I’m calling “figuring things out” in order to move forward more assuredly into our next steps or move forward in any situation.

It’s also how I’ve safely navigated the world and in some cases made deciding on certain things easier; while on others it’s only given the illusion of certainty, comfort and understanding on what to expect next, almost as a temporarily relief until more questions come up and again I am trying to figure out what can’t be known yet. So, this is where the “What I Know” list comes in as a tool to help myself and others claim certainty where we can, by focusing and listing the things we know rather than what we don’t. Doing so makes it possible to take back the power those anxious thoughts have over us and change how we see the situation.

How It Works and Has Helped:

It’s a strategy that I’ve added into my journaling practice that has added extra value the experience and that just by writing down a few certain things can help make intimidating situations less so. It’s also helped change the way I view any new situation or experience in a more positive, self-assuring way alleviating feelings of uncertain or perhaps helping me figure out I truly feel about it and therefore at least more in control of my own feelings towards it.

How It Works:

As mentioned, it is a part of my journaling practice, so you start there- with a pen or pencil; notebook or journal begin by thinking of the particular situation and write down what you know. A good place to start this process is often how you feel- even if it’s feeling uncertain or unsure- it’s easy to work from there on some of the nagging thoughts that may be hiding in your subconscious. For example: “I know I am uncertain about this situation because it’s new to me.” There you might discover it’s normal to feel that way, and already feel a little better or better yet why it’s new to you or what makes it so new. Another is “I know that the only way to find out what this is like, is by trying”. As scary as it might be, there are very few things in life that we can know what they are like without experiencing them, the rest you just have to dive in and figure out along the way. Then as time goes on, explore further adding on to the list as things become clearer or more is revealed about the situation. Sometimes, just by doing this I feel better or less anxious about having to make an important decision too quickly. It’s also important to note as well that you can always come back to listing what you know and add to it as things develop or as other elements of the situation come forth.

Other examples of the “What I Know”/ “I know” statements are: “What I know is that I’ve survived this situation before” or “What I know this is all new to me, so that’s why it may seem overwhelming at first” or “What I know is that once I get used to it, it’s not that bad” or “What I know is that I’m a good worker with great skill” “I know this type of work definitely isn’t for me” or “I know that I’m going to need more time to decide what to do next.” It’s absolutely okay to give yourself more time, not everyone processes information or experiences or even thoughts in the same way.

Summary: In any situation there is something to be found in the process of writing things down, even if it’s how you are feeling about it, that is something worth recording and to be sure of- even if you are unsure. So, by listing what we do know and focusing on that rather than the many unknowns navigating new experience have seemed less overwhelming and more easier to manage or experience. This is why I keep coming back to it when things seem unsure or when I begin on what I don’t know rather than what I do, because it helps turn things around and empowers me to see what I can have control over in any situation- and that’s what I chose to focus on in it.

It’s a simple step but helpful approach to tackling the uncertainty that comes with navigating more adult and uncertain situations better that can most certainly help you.  

On that note, Happy Journaling and as always Stay You-nique,


Blog Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash


Feature Photo  by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash