Predictability & Anxiety

As a therapist, I have observed that most people who have anxiety complain of a low tolerance for uncertainty. Not knowing what’s going to happen in a given situation is liable to make them uncomfortable, anxious or even panicked.

This is not so strange, when you think about it. In moments that matter, everyone would agree that having a good idea about what’s likely to happen allows us time to adjust and helps us feel some degree of control. This connects directly to the issue of emotional safety, as well as physical safety. The need to feel safe and secure is a genuine human need. So, it stands to reason that anyone might become upset when situations become unpredictable, disorderly or confusing.

Such an upset can happen to all kinds of people at all stages of development. Daycare workers and parents of pre-schoolers understand this very well. Most little kids need a clearly defined daily routine in order to feel comfortable. Thus, at kindergarten and other pre-schools, an order of activities is generally observed Now, consider this scenario: what might happen if, on one fine day, some child care worker should choose to change the order of activities? Some kids might be okay with the change, others might be confused, and yet others might become anxious, panicky, even to the point of having a tantrum.

While adults do not react in such an extreme manner, most people need predictability when it comes to dealing with major life issues. Exceptions do exist, of course. A minority of people are quickly bored and seek out frequent changes; they move around from place to place, hop from one job to another, one relationship to another. But we’re not focusing on that group.

So, what’s next? One might ask how to achieve predictability in life, since so much of our experience – the weather, politics, people’s behaviors and so much more – are so unpredictable. Here is an idea for your consideration, if you will.

Order + Stability + Structure = Predictability

If you have anxiety and you’re not sure how to deal with it, please notice whether your life is orderly or chaotic – loosely organized or firmly structured – stable or unstable, job-wise, financially and in your personal relationships. This can be a challenging thing to do. It takes a bit of courage to look in the mirror and see what’s really there.

If it’s not easy to get started on this, I would be more than glad to help you. Feel free to call me at 219-309-3928 for brief, no-cost consultation. it would be an honor to be of service.

Thanks for reading!