Uncertainty. The illusion of safety.
Updated: Apr 27, 2021
We live under the illusion that we can control everything. We (particularly anxious people) have it all planned out. This gives us a (false) sense of security.
Certain events (the death of a loved one, personal illness, global threats, etc.) disrupt our world – they show us how little control we actually have – they render us powerless. When all perceived power and control are taken away from us, we become aware again of how vulnerable and fragile we are – ultimately, how vulnerable and fragile the human life is. It seems that we realize once again that we will die – a fact that seems to have been forgotten (or pushed so far back in our minds) that we go about our daily life in an almost careless way.
I feel if we would all truly know that we will die one day, we would live our lifes different. We would make different choices – be more courageous, because what does a ‘wrong’ decision matter if we will die one day anyway?!
I like to plan, I like to control – this gives me a sense of security and safety. I think I have always been like this – a more safety-driven personality type. Since my panic attacks and my anxiety, the need for safety has increased further. I believe this is due to the fact that the event that caused the development of my panic attacks and anxiety, took away all of my basic trust. (Basic trust being the fundamental conviction that all will be okay, that we are okay as we are in this world.)
If this basic trust is destroyed/low/never existed in the first place, one tends to seek security in the outside – more accurate: in controlling outer circumstances.
To me this is an absolutely logical consequence: If you don’t feel that the world is a safe place, that everything will be fine no matter what, of course you will try to control as much of the world (your world) as you can.
This makes your sense of safety and ultimately your happiness dependent on outer circumstances. Only when something goes as planned, you feel secure and happy.
When plans fall through this erupts your sense of safety and brings you down/makes you sad/upset, etc.
People with low (or no) basic trust, generally have low levels of resilience – the ability to rise again after failure/difficult situations – the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. Changing circumstances/difficult situations/failure feel as if we have failed as a human being, that we did something wrong as to why the negative outcome happened. As if it is our fault that things didn’t go as planned – we take it very personal. We fail as a person – we fail at being a human in this world.
Learning and truly understanding that life doesn’t always go as planned, lowers the pressure to always perform on top.
Every life event brings a new chance to realize that there are things that are beyond our control.
This can be as small of a situation as someone stealing the front wheel of your bike (while it´s locked in the hallway – yes this happened) or big situations like the climate crisis.
Actually, when you really think about it, there is nothing that you really control 100%.
For people with low levels (or no) basic trust this seems frightening; when looked at from a different angle this can be exciting – you never know what is going to happen, what way a situation will go, what possibility, new chance will arise.
Every difficult situation bears great potential. Every crisis can become a chance.
Toolbox of learning to deal with uncertainty:
Being okay with the discomfort of not knowing – it is okay to not know the outcome of a situation. Going further: Finding joy and excitement in not knowing.
Releasing/letting go of control, surrendering and accepting what is. Staying open to whatever comes your way.
Zooming out of the situation. Most times we only look through our own eyes. Taking a step back/zooming out/finding a different angle, a different (maybe not so personal) perspective sheds new light on the situation and potentially shows us that the situation was never so important compared to the grand scheme of the universe
Having trust, having faith. Growing your sense of faith and trust in your own inherent goodness and in the universe. You are perfect as you are and the universe has got your back, you just have to trust it and allow it to do it´s magic.
Uncertainty and feelings of anxiety can have a firm grip on us. Changing this takes time and practice. I hope these tools can help you on your journey. Feel free to reach out to me, if you have questions.
What are your tools/practices for dealing with uncertainty?