Do you remember that time when we were all so intent on loading up with toilet paper? For some reason everybody felt like they had to load up as though the coming doom would give everyone diarrhea or that we were afraid the poop was literally going to “hit the fan”. The first shelves to empty were the TP aisle.
Then all the psychologists were expounding their grand wisdom about how the human mind works and what we do when we are scared. Everybody had an opinion and often it was kind of funny. Regardless, the idea that seemed to have the most validity, was the idea that people needed a sense of control. So, if they could stock up on something that everybody wanted, they would be ok. Now, that is funny.
This thing that swept through our culture was Fear of Uncertainty. What is going to happen? What is happening? What can I do? We are all going to die! What’s the Government going to do to save us?
Uncertainty became a part of our life and we didn’t like that. Life was so Certain; grocery shelves were always stocked up, Amazon delivered anything within a day or two, we felt secure in our little bubble and we definitely weren’t going to die from an unseen foe (we had settled in that regular ways to die were ok, things like car wrecks, cancer or the old school flu).
We loved Certainty, it gave us the feel of a warm soft blanket on a cool Fall morning. So nice. But then Uncertainty swept in and we didn’t have answers and we love knowing all the answers. Answers help us to have a feeling of control. So, we fell into trying to control our universe. We worried, we watched too many prognosticators who had these “models” that told them with Certainty where this was all headed. Boy, were they wrong. We thought worry, anxiety and control were ways to increase Certainty. Boy, were we wrong.
When we try to control that which cannot be controlled, we go a little crazy, maybe a lot crazy. That’s where the TP came in, crazy right? In reality we can only control one thing, I know you have heard this before, that thing is you. You can control your mood, your mindset and your actions. As well, you can influence a couple things like your environment and leading your family.
Life is Uncertain. You cannot help it. Sorry to break this to you, but people die. We all are going to die. That is Certainty. The Uncertainty is when will it happen and how. Parts of life are tough to navigate, but you are not so fragile, you can handle it. You can handle the tough truth. You can handle tough situations.
Listen to this, Uncertainty is what makes life exciting and fun. If you knew the end of a story or movie or book, the experience would not be fun. We all know what it feels like to read the ending in the book first or when someone fails to say “Spoiler Alert” before telling what happens in the movie you haven’t seen yet, so annoying. But enjoying and embracing Uncertainty and not knowing the answers gives life a good shot of excitement. How is it going to turn out?
If we were to embrace Uncertainty as a reality of living a full life, we could navigate anything with courage and without making ourselves crazy with worry and anxiety. Life might just become a little fun even in nutsy times. And we just might be able to be present with those we love in very healthy ways as we create an environment of togetherness, activity and creativity.
Here’s a couple ideas to help to help you embrace Uncertainty;
- Don’t watch so much TV or Social Media, this stuff messes you up. If you must watch, give it a time when to see it, maybe for 15 minutes at 8am and 6pm.
- Take care of yourself; exercise, sleep, eat well, ask for help, be more affectionate, take quiet times out for yourself, consider how you want things to go and make that happen.
- Just breathe. Every time you feel like you must have Certainty, stop and take a couple nice, slow, deep breaths. Remember what you can control and embrace that feeling of Uncertainty, our friend that makes life exciting.
Ken Curry, LMFT is available during this crisis for Teletherapy appointments through Grace Counseling. He regularly works with men and couples to help them through difficult times in life, and can help you find ways to stay grounded as the world changes around us. If you’d like to speak with Ken or any of our counselors, click here to request an appointment, or call (720) 489-8555.