How To Manage Uncertainty
Uncertainty is something that pops up in the therapy process once we have gained insight into an issue we are facing. Possibly you have uncovered patterns of critical or abusive self talk. Maybe you have uncovered negative relationship patterns that were learned from your parents. At some point in the therapy process you may start to feel like “well now what?”
The truth is, you are right.
Gaining insight into destructive patterns of thinking and relating can only get us so far.
At the point in therapy when a client has gained significant insight, uncertainty or increased anxiety can set in. This phase of growth always reminds me of the time I was in a business leadership training. The speaker had asked us to go home and clean out some small part of our home like a drawer or closet as one of the exercises. She specifically asked us not to put anything back in the drawer. In the next session she explained that once the drawer is cleaned, unless we have a plan, it will likely end up a mess again in a few months.
Therapy is a lot like the exercise my business coach shared. In the beginning we start to take a look at negative, unhelpful or critical thoughts and patterns. Then we get to work on “cleaning up” in the form of reframing, processing traumas, forgiving ourselves, and offering more compassion for our suffering. Once our internal “drawers” are cleaned we can start to feel uncertainty about who we are becoming and how people might respond to a different version of us.
Sometimes that uncertainty comes in the form of survivor guilt. We can become afraid that if we heal, become sober or better ourselves in any way that we will no longer fit in or be accepted by those around us. We might ask “what if I can’t relate anymore?”
It is true that when we start to improve our lives, some relationships will become distant or no longer be needed. But many times, as we heal, our relationships can become lighter, less chaotic and even more connected from before.
You see, when we let go of our own internal abuse, we can begin to internally distinguish between the abuse, criticism and negative patterns in our relationships and focus more on the actual person.
If we go slow, stay focused and keep working on what is right in front of us, uncertainty can be one more part of growing that we can learn from rather than be afraid of.
If you have found yourself in a place of uncertainty in your therapy journey, here are a few tips and reminders:
Focus on what is right in front of you. Uncertainty is an obsession about the future. We can’t get caught up in that type of anxiety if we are taking our life one day at a time.
Practice Your Skills. Hopefully you are learning skills in therapy that allow you to feel more connected, less anxious, happier, more secure. Really focus on taking what you learn in therapy seriously. Keep a journal review your notes. Listen to podcasts on mental health. Devoting time to being mentally well distracts us from feelings of uncertainty.
Plan What you can. Rather than just leaving tasks and interactions to chance, see where you can add a little bit more control into your life and practice letting the rest go.
Have questions about overcoming uncertainty in your life? Connect with one of our clinicians today.