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Learning to Accept Uncertainty

As we’re working to heal ourselves, one of the obstacles we find ourselves up against is all of the uncertainty we’re feeling around the recovery process. We’re uncertain of what the future holds. We feel uncertainty about our ability to get well. We feel uncertain about the timing of how things are going for us, and we feel unsure of ourselves – are we taking too long to make changes? Are we stalling in our recovery? Are we not doing enough or working hard enough? Are we sabotaging our progress? We don’t know if we’ll even be able to recover successfully, or if we’ll always be struggling like this. We’re uncertain about the possibility that we’ll relapse, and we’re filled with fear and trepidation. Will we be able to be happy? Are we destined for a life of dependence and struggle? Will we be able to make our dreams come true?

We can help ourselves manifest a successful recovery, and feel much more positive in the process, if we can learn to accept the uncertainty we feel. Usually when we feel uncertainty, especially when it comes to our recovery, we’re filled with fear, and we allow our fear to make us build resistance. We’re afraid of the fear we feel, so we resist it. We might try to avoid thinking about our future because it scares us. We might try to force ourselves to create definitive plans and have unrealistic expectations for ourselves. We might try to predict what will happen for us down the line. We have a hard time meeting our expectations and following these plans we’ve created because we can’t predict the future and because we’re in a place of uncertainty and feeling tremendous confusion, fear and overwhelm, all of which impede our manifestation power. Our fear makes us try to control things, especially future outcomes which are impossible to predict or control. When we fail to live up to our expectations or go off plan, we’re disappointed in ourselves, we beat ourselves up, and we become self-deprecating, adding to the stress and uncertainty we’re already feeling. When we’re experiencing uncertainty, we often will think in very negative thought patterns. We jump to conclusions and worst-case scenarios. We catastrophize and assume the worst will happen. We become pessimistic, cynical and skeptical. When we’ve already experienced difficulty and struggle, we sometimes assume that this is all we have in store for us. We lose faith in ourselves and our ability to turn things around for ourselves. Instead of resisting the uncertainty we feel, we can learn instead to accept it.

Acceptance teaches us to allow things to be as they are without resistance, without conflict or disharmony. When we accept something, we acknowledge its existence without feeling as though we have to change it, fix it or make it go away. We don’t have to avoid it or run from it. We learn that there’s nothing we actually have to fear when we’re faced with uncertainty because we’re stronger than any challenge put before us. When we feel uncertainty, especially about our recovery, we can accept that there is this difficulty in our current experience and at the same time allow it to be there without panicking about it or wishing we could avoid it. We don’t have to let ourselves be controlled by it. We can choose to allow ourselves to feel all of the emotions that come up for us when we’re feeling uncertain – the fear, worry, anxiety and self-doubt, the uneasiness and restlessness, the lack of groundedness and centeredness. When we allow ourselves to feel these difficult feelings, we gradually move through them.

On the other hand, when we resist our emotions, panic about them and try not to feel them, they hold much more power over us. We allow our emotions to drive our choices and behaviors. We feel consumed by our fear of the future. We dread the recovery process. We become convinced we’ll relapse. All this resistance can make us more likely to turn to our drugs of choice for relief from our difficult feelings. We end up relapsing even though we were desperately trying to avoid it. We end up feeling disappointed in ourselves and ashamed of ourselves that we failed after desperately wanting to stay sober for so long. Our resistance around the uncertainty we were feeling can actually work against us and become part of our self-sabotage. Resisting our emotions and our uncertainty can ultimately be self-destructive.

Accepting our feelings of being uncertain and unsure can feel uncomfortable at first. Just like any new thought pattern or emotional habit, we want to practice it until it becomes easier. What would it feel like to be okay with feeling uncertain? What would it feel like to sit with that discomfort? We might feel some physical sensations of anxiety along with our worrisome, troubled thoughts. Our hearts might race. We might start breathing faster, more shallow breaths, or we might struggle to catch our breath. We might feel our nervousness as pressure in our chests or tingling in our arms, fingers, legs and feet. Learning to accept uncertainty means breathing through the difficult thoughts, emotions and physical sensations we’re experiencing whenever we’re feeling unsure or uncertain about anything. Breathe through the confusion, fear and overwhelm. Breathe through the feelings of dread, uneasiness and trepidation.

As we breathe and accept whatever comes up for us, we become more grounded and centered within ourselves. We see firsthand that we’re able to move through the difficult feelings we’re experiencing, so we develop more self-confidence and more faith in ourselves. We see that we’re resilient and strong, even in the face of uncertainty. We begin to trust ourselves more and relax in the faith that we’ll be able to overcome any spiritual test we’re presented with, making us better able to cope with the challenges that arise in our recovery.

Riverside Recovery is committed to helping you uncover the issues fueling your addictions. Our treatment programs include multiple forms of therapy, family workshops and mindfulness-based relapse prevention education. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.