In defense of uncertainty

As has happened before, I have been invited to share my ideas and/or experiences in writing, as part of my therapeutic work. And, as on previous occasions, I have resisted sharing something in writing that exposed me to external evaluation and even to my discrepancy, after revisiting my ideas a few times.

This brings me to another internal conflict, the one that as a feminist leads me to wish for more female voices writing and giving visibility to what women have to share in a profession in which we are so present, yet not equally seen.

It has always offered me some comfort to think that a psychologist as famous as Laura Perls hardly wrote during her professional career, despite having much to teach and share. She seemed to prefer direct experience to exemplify her approach, and it is in that immediacy that I often feel most secure in relational sharing of my experience. For better and for worse, we, women, tend to prioritize this direct care over the visibility of our work.

Beyond the social framework that surrounds me as a woman, as a therapist, in the here-and-now of a session I have you in front of me, allowing me to evaluate in real-time your reactions to my words and have the opportunity to explore creatively how to meet you in a safe place for you and me.

When I dare to write, however, I expose myself to an unforeseen reaction, to which I can only respond a posteriori. How do I know if I will be prepared to receive it?

And, in this way, I come to the subject that gives the title to this text: uncertainty.

The evidence emanating from psychophysiological research shows us that, despite the plasticity and flexibility of our brain, we tend to build frames or mental structures that allow us to see our experience from a stable, understandable, and somewhat controllable point of view. This means that when we lack information, our brain cover the gaps with assumptions (projections, fantasies, ...), which allow us to continue operating under the assumption of having all the data necessary to make decisions and continue taking steps on solid ground. But if the terrain does not yet offer sufficient guarantees, it becomes very difficult for us to move forward.

This would be what usually leads me to choose avoidance to action, because after all, the relationship with our environment and the people in it is essential for our survival, so it is not to despise the fear of losing that contact if I have the impression that I do not have sufficient resources to sustain myself in rejection.

Intolerance to uncertainty is a critical factor in the development and maintenance of widespread concerns, not only in those who experience them as part of anxiety disorders but also in those who experience them without reaching a pathological degree. This intolerance of uncertainty is nothing more than fear of the unknown. A fear that, like our other emotions, has an important evolutionary value, which we need to learn to tolerate so we can obtain the maximum benefit from its existence.

These days, I have often heard the expression "new normal" and this has aroused a certain suspicion in me, at the possibility of rushing to believe that we know what is happening and what comes next. The need to have answers that allow us to look beyond fifteen days is very understandable, but we are faced with a reality so changing that pretending to find ourselves already facing a new normality, can lead us to despise the opportunity that uncertainty itself presents to us: keep our senses attentive to the curious exploration of our environment, to find answers after a process of trial and error such as that, evolutionarily, any individual and species-like change demands.

This text may leave you with an uncomfortable feeling, but I would like to invite you to remember that the human species is resilient and we just need to give ourselves a vote of confidence, a little more time, to continue collecting the particularities of this new reality in a way that we can find a creative adjustment, both in the short and medium-term. We must maintain an open attitude to change and the risk intrinsic to our life experience. Proof of this is that I have dared to expose to your reading my limited understanding of this situation and, in doing so, I have to accept the double possibility of approaching or moving away from you depending on how my words may have reached you.

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