We cannot control everything that happens in our lives or our child’s lives. As the COVID-19 pandemic caused panic and suffering worldwide, we might have feared for the worst during the past year. Many wondered if they would get sick or lose family members to the illness. Despite all precautions and safety guidelines, some of us did lose family members.
As we continue to move forward past the pandemic and heal as a nation, we might fear whether or not things will ever return to normal again. How can we cope with living in a world with so much uncertainty?
Denial: Believing We Are the Exception to the Rule
Many people might look at the past year and feel like the pandemic or the restrictions were unfair. They might look at the pandemic as an event that disrupted life and bide their time for things to go back to normal. When a catastrophic event occurs beyond anyone’s control, we still retain a bit of hesitancy to accept our loss of control. Some broke from safety precautions, thinking, “I’ll be fine. I won’t get COVID, and if I do, nothing bad will happen to me.”
Believing that bad things only happen to “other people” is one way people deny the severity of an event. Denial is a defensive mechanism that can put us at risk or cause us to turn a blind eye to reality. When living in denial of the pandemic, many might feel disappointed, confused, or frustrated after the threat is over. After such an event, the world will not return to what was once “normal.”
Growth and Acceptance
When dealing with uncertainty, we are reminded of the fragility of life. Those in denial of the pandemic’s threat might take their loved ones for granted, assuming that they will always be safe and secure. They might miss out on issues occurring within their families, avoiding any type of conflict or uncomfortable realities. When we accept life on life’s terms, both good and bad, we can grow and change for the better.
A crucial aspect of dealing with uncertainty is our perception of control. Whether we are dealing with uncertainty about returning to normal after the pandemic, helping a child struggling with addiction, or a generalized fear of failure or loss, understanding our desire for control can help us navigate uncertainty.
What Can We Control
How much control do we really have? We might consider the odds of failure when taking calculated risks; however, few things in life have a guarantee. While we should not just throw caution to the wind all the time and research before making life-changing decisions, we can still move forward while also accepting that nothing is certain.
While we cannot control everything that happens, we can control our response to adversity. Accepting uncertainty means that we press against the resistance of potentially risking loss and failure—and we move forward anyway. Resistance only makes us stronger in our resolve to tackle life’s problems as they come our way.
Living in the Moment
Often, those fearing uncertainties are living in imagined futures. They consider the worst-case scenarios coming to fruition, or they are holding onto idyllic visions of a future soon to come, where everything goes the way they wish. Others might be stuck in the past, reminiscing for simpler times, hoping things could be as they once were while not taking any steps toward creating the world they want to see. They might also dwell on past pain, reluctant to move forward for fear of experiencing the same pain again.
Planning for the future and learning from the past is necessary to live in the present moment. Time moves like a song, where each note has an impact based on established harmonies of what came before as the melody moves forward to resolution. Living in the present does not mean that we deny what came before or forgo preparing for what comes next. Instead, we acknowledge the pain of the past, the uncertainty of the future, and move forward anyway.
The Here and Now
Grounding ourselves back to the present moment, or the “here and now,” can help us manage our thoughts and fears of uncertainty. We might get lost in thoughts of disaster or of past defeats, and need to count to ten, take a deep breath, feel the wind on our face, or smell the fresh air. When our fears of uncertainty overwhelm us, we can take a minute to express gratitude for being alive in this moment and get back to living our lives.
We cannot control everything in our lives. We might struggle to understand what we can and cannot control in life, or we might deny that we do not have everything under our control. When living in a world of uncertainty, we might let fear prevent us from living our lives to the fullest. We might anticipate the worst possible outcome based on past experiences and refuse to move forward. We also might falsely believe that we will be the exception to the rule—and that some problems only happen to other people. Fear and denial can keep us from living or caring for issues as they come up. If your child struggles to cope with the changes of the pandemic, you might notice some behavioral changes, such as isolation, excessive gaming, irritability, or other indications that something is not quite right. Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center is here for kids and parents. Call us today at (303) 443-3343 and get your kid back!