Maybe it's the uncertainty ...

I’ve written recently about how overwhelmed I currently feel about things, and that seems to resonate with a number of people, many of whom have let me know they are feeling the same way

So I’ve been reflecting on just why this should be.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really feeling better. In fact, in many ways, I’m feeling sadder and a little more anxious. This, as I’ve said, is just not like me. Not at all.

Uncertainty.

Could that be it?

As we all are aware, all the crises affecting our country at this time are complicated, important and – whatever your stance politically – distressing. Some groups of people justifiably are more distressed than others, but all of us are affected. Everyone.

It reminds me a bit of something I heard years ago about Rwandans after their bloody civil war in the 1990s. What was said at the therapy conference I was attending is that everyone in Rwanda was traumatized by the events that led to many deaths and much destruction. EVERYONE. Including the therapists. What was needed was for non-Rwandan therapists to come, help the Rwandan ones get back to health, so that they could help their countrypeople in turn.

And that’s a sobering thought.

I’ve often prided myself on being pretty darn emotionally healthy, and it’s disturbing to me to feel the ways I’ve been feeling recently.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no problem doing therapy as usual and continuing to do my job as I have been. I have always been able to compartmentalize therapy and my life without too much bleed-through. For me there is a world of difference between sitting with someone in their pain and anxiety and experiencing my own.

Thank God. And I mean that reverently.

I want to repeat something I said in my last blog:

No matter how flexible you are, what has happened to our world this year has been overwhelming, and exhausting. And … especially for some who don’t handle conflict, change and chaos well, it’s been downright depressing.

It’s ok. However you are feeling right now. It’s ok. It’s normal.

It’s a tough time for many. It’s upsetting to most of us. Give yourself some grace.

Grace is an important element here. Nearly everyone is distressed. Nearly everyone is grieving, something at least, even if it’s just the lack of peace in our world. Give grace to others. Give grace to yourself.

I’ve been exploring why our current world situation has gotten to me, and why now. I came across some research by the folks at The Maine Medical Research Institute, among others, in which the authors discuss the relationship between uncertainty and the way we feel about it. One of the many things they said about it which resonated with me is: “We suggest that people have a propensity to simulate negative outcomes, which result in a propensity toward negative affective responses to uncertainty.” *** In laypeople’s terms -- because we tend to look at uncertain circumstances as if they will turn out negatively, we feel more upset by them.

Exactly.

So if I follow that line of thinking logically, I’m more upset now because of the potential negative outcomes I see in the future – the way my mind plays out our current situation into even more problems later – than I would be if I was able, somehow, to project a more positive time ahead.

To have more faith. To believe in good to come.

Fortunately, we, as believers, actually have a blueprint for how to do that. When I share this, please do not think I have it all under control. I am a work in progress, just as we all are, and I am working hard to believe my own words, even though I know them to be true.

But these verses I know to be absolutely true.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11,NIV.

“Yet this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23, NIV.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13, NIV.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, NIV.

And my current favorite: “Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? … Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6: 27, 34, NIV.

Indeed.

I have been using that last one a lot lately, both in therapy and in my own head. This whole thing has caused me to really reflect on my level of trust in God, as opposed to humans. As opposed to me. I thought I’d hammered this out years ago when my husband was seriously, deadly ill, but apparently not. Or it’s just a lesson I need to learn, over and over and over again.

Trust. In the Lord. With my whole heart. Being present in today, and not projecting negative outcomes on tomorrow. Knowing that, no matter what, God is in charge.

Truth.

For all of us.

Thank you for listening to me.

Ellen

_______________

At Sanctuary Christian Counseling we help grieving individuals, distressed kids and teens and couples in conflict find peace, solutions and connection.

Sanctuary Christian Counseling

Online and in person therapy

9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4

Shippensburg, PA 17257

717-200-3158

info@sanctuarychristiancounseling.com

***Anderson, E., Carleton, R.N., Diefenbach, M. and Han, P. The Relationship Between Uncertainty and Affect. Frontiers in Psychology. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02504/full

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