Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Coping with Uncertainty During the 2022 Holidays

December 12th, 2022 · coping with uncertainty

Coping with uncertainty is a theme I’ve explored before, but it seems to have a lot of relevance for the end of our current year, 2022.

(PHOTO: Stock Photo Secrets)

As we come to the end of this year, we certainly seem to be coping with uncertainty. In our post-modern world, things often seem pretty precarious, Yet, this year seems to take the cake! We seem to have just barely cleared the pandemic. We have a very strained medical system, and a crisis situation with children in need of care for respiratory diseases.

We also seem to have an economy that is giving very mixed messages. We still have high inflation. We also have interest rates that are going up to attempt to counter it. Due to the inflation, and the aftermath of the pandemic, many people are finding it tougher to make ends meet.

In addition to all of this, the pandemic’s aftershocks continue to be felt. Many social events that flourished with large attendances in 2019 can’t seem to get the same numbers of people out in 2022. Restaurants and coffee shops that bulged at the seams a few short years ago seem sparsely populated. A great many people seem quite tentative about their Holiday plans.

Just at the moment, we seem to be in a world where people hedge their bets far more than they used to do. At the end of 2022, there is a potent feeling of uncertainty in the air.

Coping with Uncertainty Affects Us

When we seek to cope with an environment that has a heightened level of uncertainty, we experience a heightened level of stress. This is something that we carry in both our bodies and our minds. The experience of stress associated with matters of importance in our lives can easily lead to anxiety or depression. It’s important that we understand in a self-compassionate way when we’re under stress, and that we have ways to deal with it that are healthy and good for us.

Holiday anxiety can have some very dramatic effects. The Holidays may foster love, generosity and kind-heartedness in many ways. However, they can also bring a heightened sense of obligation and expectations. Add this to the kind of uncertainty many are experiencing in the present time, and it can result in difficult anxiety-related symptoms. These could include:

  • Excessive worry, that doesn’t go away;
  • Physical anxiety symptoms (e,g., shortness of breath, shaking, dizziness, upset stomach, or dry mouth);
  • Social withdrawal and isolation due to anxiety;
  • Changes in appetite and weight, in either direction;
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless; or,
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances.

The Questions That Uncertainty Asks

Uncertainty can ask us deep and difficult questions about our lives. It asks us to take in the chances and changes of life. It asks us what remains stable and retains its value, given the flow of life. How can we respond?

One possible response is simple denial. We can just ignore the reality of uncertainties. We can act as if everything is secure and stable. Or, engage in a range of distractions to keep from focusing on the uncertainty. Yet it’s likely that the effects of the uncertainty, and the anxiety associated with it, will creep into our lives.

This Holiday season can be a time of joy, but it can also highlight the precarious nature of our lives. What kind of answers can we give to the unknowns and anxieties that we experience? How do we manage coping with uncertainty?

Answers That Sustain Us

[T]he point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Where can we focus, to sustain us in our own personal journey? Certainly, we need to look at how to take care of ourselves through the Holiday season, and into the New Year. We need to identify ways to be compassionate to ourselves, and to practice self-care. We also need to set appropriate boundaries with respect to time, commitments and expenditures. We also need to find ways to maximize our sense of personal power, and of being in control of our lives. And we need to find what carries meaning in our individual lives. Where do we find what has value for us personally, and where do we touch the reality of our own unique souls?

Work with a supportive Jungian depth psychotherapist or Jungian analyst can assist us greatly with all these areas of focus. With its emphasis on the unique importance of each of our individual life journeys, and the ways that the Self is seeking to express itself in our unique lives, a Jungian approach can open us up to the value and grace of our own individual life journey. At the Holiday season, this may be the gift for which we most deeply yearn.

With every good wish for the Holidays, and for your unique personal journey,

© 2022 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner


© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Coping with Uncertainty & Fear in Times of Disruption

March 23rd, 2020 · coping with uncertainty

Continuing on from last week’s post on COVID-19, this post explores ways of coping with uncertainty and fear in angst-laden times, like the present.

Sign of the times…

The COVID-19 situation is certainly rapidly changing and constantly fluid.  We are all perpetually seeking to understand the situation, and its meaning for our lives, the lives of those who are close to us, and the society as a whole.  Given the high stakes, both in terms of directly health-related matters, and in terms of the economic consequences of the pandemic, very many of us are now coping with uncertainty, and a considerable amount of fear.  How can we possibly take care of ourselves in such a situation, and find meaning for our lives?

Be Kind to the Reptile Brain… but Don’t Let It Run the Show!

Many people will tell you that there has been an atmosphere of unreality about the developments of recent weeks around the pandemic. The news of the lockdowns, or of the hits that the economy has taken have unfolded for us, but for many people, they have an air of fiction about them. It reminds me of the lines from a Beatles song:

Though she feels as if she’s in a play / She is anyway…

Beatles, “Penny Lane”

We are seeing a lot of denial around the events of recent weeks. As UC San Diego Prof. Saul Levine tells us, denial is:

A psychological defense we all use at times to reduce our anxiety when something feels particularly disturbing.

The reason for the denial is that taking in what has happened might well be completely overwhelming and immobilizing. We need to recognize that there is a part of ourselves that is very afraid of these events, that wants to run away. It wants to “go to the cottage and never come back”, in the words of a friend. In Jungian terms, the fear in the present situation is in our shadow, which Jung simply defined as “the part of ourselves that we do not wish to acknowledge”.

This is a manifestation of the primitive parts of our brain, “the reptile brain”, as it is often called, that is concerned at a very basic survival level with the fight-or-flight response That part of ourselves can easily feel lonely, resourceless and panicked, in the midst of coping with uncertainty and fear. We need to take care of that part of the brain, and to be compassionate towards it — but we also need to be sure that it’s not running the show.

Steps We Can Take to Address Fear

Maybe we can’t completely eliminate fear and a sense of isolation, but there are many things we can do to make it better. Here are a few ideas.

Definitely consider limiting your intake of news. I’ve stated this one before, but it’s worth emphasizing. News content can often gain a great deal of attention if it is fear-inducing and disempowering, and news outlets are fully aware of this. It’s worthwhile identifying a trustworthy news outlet that doesn’t sensationalize — and giving it a relatively small amount of attention.

Stay connected with people you appreciate. This might seem hard, given all the restrictions we now face with “social distancing”. Yet, it’s possible to do some creative things, such as starting a cocktail hour or coffee meet up on a video conferencing site. Meeting virtually with a group of people you know can be enlivening. Social contact can help a great deal in reducing fear.

Find revitalizing ways to exercise. This may be a good time to try some new exercise equipment, or a new exercise regime. There are all kinds of online exercise platforms created by various fitness clubs, as well as quite number of online T’ai Chi or Yoga platforms. Exercise has great value in reducing stress.

Do something that channels your passions. It could be writing, working with clay, painting, quilting or home gardening, But identifying your passion, and working to deepen your connection to it, is something that reduces stress and brings a real sense of fulfillment and connection to soul

You might not be able to see a depth psychotherapist face-to-face right now, but you could certainly start a connection with one online. It might be of great help to discuss the ways in which you’re currently coping with uncertainty and fear, and simultaneously to explore the things that are trying to emerge in your life, on your journey toward wholeness.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional

Certified Telemental Health Practitioner


© Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)


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