It’s no doubt that the things which are the most important for us to know are the things which, once heard, feel the most obvious. The things which, once said, feel the most simple. And yet, it is these things which are often, once heard and said, the things which change us the most. The things which make the biggest impact in our worlds because even though they are obvious and even though they are simple, they are still the things which are most important and have the most impact.
A New Year’s resolution has been to read an article a workday. Workday means ultimately five articles a week, and article means a research or peer-reviewed journal article, so what to do when throwing a party or how to build biceps fastest doesn’t count as articles.
I was reading, a few days ago (because I’ve also learned that New Year’s resolutions I wait to start until New Year’s are 100% less likely to happen than New Year’s resolutions I start a few days before) an article* about depression, anxiety and rumination. I was reading for a client that I’ve been making little progress with, and also reading for myself as is almost always the case whether any of us in the field choose to admit it or not.
The article speaks to depression, anxiety and rumination, or ongoing perseverative thoughts about situations or details, as moderated by the intolerance of uncertainty. And while the phrase “intolerance of uncertainty” feels as common and as known and as obvious as any other phrase that’s said over coffee or in elevators or across lunch tables, I felt myself freeze in the phase of the written words, as if the obvious and known was suddenly becoming an answer to a mystery.
The more we are intolerant of what we can’t control and what we don’t know, the greater our anxiety, depression and stalling.
With multitudes of caveats and uncontrollable variables, the notion has stuck with me since. The ability that I, or others, have to tolerate uncertainty influences the way we see the future and handle its impending realities in the present. Since all of the future is uncertain, no matter the degree at which we enjoy misleading ourselves, my ability to tolerate that uncertainty is a predictor of my emotions, attitudes, and decisions.
Since reading this article, no doubt an encouragement to keep up my New Year’s resolution, I’ve been challenged to face each day with a reminder to myself that what is to come is unknown, and my trust in the fact that all things are done well and that all things work together is and will be a major factor in my ability to move forward well into the grief and joy that lies ahead in 2013.
Here’s to an uncertain new year.
* Liao, K. Y. & Wei, M. (2011). Intolerance of uncertainty, depression, and anxiety: The moderating and mediating roles of rumination. Journal of clinical psychology, 67(12), 1220-1239.