Grappling With the Unknown

Image is of a rollercoaster to go with the metaphor of a ride

The unknown has been on my mind a lot lately for various reasons, some of which, surprisingly, are not about the context of the world and the United States at large. “The unknown” is a common theme in therapy. Will I find love in my life? Should I take this job? Was it the right choice to move here? What’s the best way to handle this situation? Did I eat the “right” thing?


As If There Are Only Two Options

I see my clients often struggling with the fact that they do not know what the future holds. There’s immense pressure to make the perfect choice . . as if such a thing existed.

If you can already detect, often the fears of the unknown surround “all or none” thinking, “right or wrong” perspectives . . . as if there are only two options.

Many people like things concrete. There can be feelings of safety in the tangible. However, that drive for making something that is abstract and unclear into an object you can hold in your hand, first of all can be impossible. Second of all, it can come with a steep price. That price is being stifled into a box where you only have limited options and are never “allowed” to make a wrong move. (Who voice is that? Who, in your life, does that sound like?)

When things are concrete and predictable, this also means they’re measurable and comparable. When things are measurable and comparable that means we’re evaluating and objectifying. I don’t believe you are an object. Being stuck in that rigidity, that simplicity, seems like it would feel safe and good, but . . . we’re complex, life is complex, emotions are complex. Complex does not equal bad.

Embracing the Unknown?

In general (not 100% of the time), I like being friends with the unknown. I enjoy the ride. I expect the world to be unpredictable (for better or for worse). However, I use to think this might indicate that something was wrong with me . . . maybe I’m in denial, maybe I’m too optimistic and that’s why it doesn’t scare me (much), maybe I’m naive. I have now come to recognize that a good chunk of my ability to not fear the unknown comes from my privilege of being white and middle-class (i.e. a strong sense of safety and freedom). Some of it also comes from my personality, how I’m wired and how I was raised.

The Thrill Ride

I get it. Not everyone is up for the possibility of a thrill ride, literal or metaphorical, and even if you are, it’s not guaranteed that it’s going to be a good time or that you’ll get the reaction you want. Our unknowns can be pretty scary. Then there’s even the possibility that WE will be unpredictable in the throes of the ride. Will I do something embarrassing, like scream or cry or wet my pants? Will I have the best time of my life? You might. That’s the unknown.

If you want to learn to embrace to unknown more and allow yourself more flexibility in your choices and explore your relationship with the unknown, give me a call and let’s chat about the possibility of working together.

Speak Your Mind



Karin Lawson

2312 Wilton Drive, Suite 22
Wilton Manors, FL 33305