Uncertainty avoidance is something that we seem to do naturally. The fear of uncertainty has been embedded in the way we interact with our environments. We see this in our myths. The story of two children abandoned in a forest by their parents where they meet a deceitful witch – is more than just a childhood story – it also expresses the great fear of entering any forest or wood in that particular culture and time. If we don’t know a lot about someone or something, we tend to distance ourselves from that person or object.
This is also why the fear of clowns is one of the largest recorded fears people experience. They themselves embody the nature of how uncertainty operates. One of the driving factors of why clowns scare us is due to the fact that we don’t know what lies behind the mask. We don’t know what they are capable of and/or what motivates them. It is the ambiguity of the threat – and not knowing what that threat is or what it looks like that compels us to fear such things as forests and clowns. All of us experience the fear of uncertainty in some way. The marketing world relies upon this as it seeks to promise anti-aging remedies to the existential threat of death. Consumerism promises happiness because the uncertainty of a life without happiness is too daunting for any of us to dwell on. Uncertainty is terrifying for most. But, why?
Uncertainty tends to stem from our inability to control our mental experiences of events, as Doris Brothers claims, “experiences of uncertainty are continually transformed by the regulatory processes of everyday life such as feeling, knowing, forming categories, making decisions, using language, creating narratives, sensing time, remembering, forgetting, and fantasizing.”
As we can see, there are a host of reasons why uncertainty gives us a sense of powerlessness over circumstances that just arise. However, the good news, is that the collective list shared above can also work as a practical guide on how we can free ourselves from extreme levels of uncertainty and navigate the murky territory of feeling like we have some semblance of control over our lives. If we begin to use a tool like metacognition (which mindfulness meditation can help you with) – a method where we become aware of our thoughts and how they are guiding us – we can then begin building a life that is determined not to be controlled by the fear of uncertainty.
If you are experiencinge uncertainty in the time of COVID-19, we are here for you and we offer Teletherapy services. Get in touch today!