Accepting the Unknown

Posted by on Jul 21, 2013 in OCD, Therapy | Comments Off

Accepting the Unknown

Accept yourself for who you are. That’s been a long-held maxim that we try to live by, but what does it actually mean and how does it really help?

For those who are anxious, lack of acceptance can often be at the root of the problem. Anxiety is often aboutwanting to feel secure and safe, therefore the opposite is assumed to be true as well – an anxious person often has a difficult time accepting uncertainty about the future as well.

By accepting the fact that there is no certainty, an anxious person is taking away the firepower that usually fuels anxiety and slowly the anxiety starts to fade. This form of extinction is by far the most effective way to decrease anxiety as opposed to trying to evaluate the rationality of whether there is a real reason to be anxious. Since we really cannot tell what is going to happen in our lives, telling ourselves that “everything will be okay” is surely going to be met with waxing and waning believability. At times you will be able to say this with certainty and at other times things may seem farther from the truth.

Tolerating uncertainty is like tolerating an itch or some other discomfort. By exercising this muscle you will find that situations that would normally affect you negatively start to feel less uncomfortable. This process is very natural, so count on it.  However, if you disrupt the process with reassurance that things will be “be OK” you will be undoing the “strengthening” of the uncertainty muscle that you worked so hard to do.

Next time when you are worrying about something, take a moment to take a deep breath, and think “I really can’t know what’s going to happen but in this moment, I am ok”.

If you want to work on acceptance more on your own, we would suggest, “The Confidence Gap”, by Russ Harris and Steven Hayes.