In relationships there is an enormous amount of uncertainty. Young couples leap into the certainty of sex because it is hard for them to tolerate all the uncertainty of beginnings.

In a majority of relationships there is tremendous uncertainty in years 6 – 10, because all the illusions have fallen away. The hard work of building an honest infrastructure has just begun. After all the children leave the nest, couples often face each other in uncertainty and ask “Who are we together when children are no longer the constant priority?”

Steelers Terrible Towel, Superbowl loss, Anxiety, UncertaintyUncertainty is a huge part of life. Uncertainty is what makes watching the Superbowl exciting. If our Pittsburgh Steelers were to win every time it would not be very interesting. We have to lose occasionally to not know what will happen.

Our culture really runs away from uncertainty. We’d rather know we’re headed for divorce than stay in the messiness of facing problems. We’d rather vacation in the familiarity of the same place year after year than risk something new. We’ll stay in the same mind numbing job rather than go interview somewhere else.

So many young people come to my office with terrible anxiety. Anxiety is about being afraid. Being anxious means loving certainty. I mentioned in an earlier post that many anxious people love the certainty of Law & Order because the story is neatly wrapped up every episode. Youth is a time of experimenting and risking new experiences. It’s very hard to watch young people shrink their world to avoid uncertainty.

We make up all the terrible things that can happen to us as excuses to not try something new. We allow fear to leap to dreadful conclusions as a way to avoid uncertainty. The truth of uncertainty means we don’t know what will happen.

We like knowing what will happen way too much. Our dread is not reality. Our dread keeps us stuck only in the familiar. Avoiding job interviews because “they won’t want me anyway” is how to get out of going. Having a fight with a good friend and letting them disappear instead of doing the work of softening differences with lots of conversations is sad, yet comfortable.

We pay a huge price for being certain. As sad as it is our Steelers lost, embrace uncertainty.


About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

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