222: Is Uncertainty Holding You Back? (Sort Of)

We continue our conversation by exploring the challenges of navigating uncertainty and the fear of failure, particularly in the context of career choices and personal growth. We talk about impatience about not knowing the future, and a desire for control, despite enjoying aspects of planning. Perfectionism and the fear of making mistakes, especially when it comes to our children, are also anxieties we discuss.

Through sharing personal experiences, we offer reframing strategies for approaching uncertainty and failure. We emphasize the value of viewing past failures as learning opportunities that ultimately led us to positive outcomes. The concept of taking steps forward and trusting the process, even if the outcome is uncertain, is also highlighted. Similarly, reframing mistakes as valuable lessons is explored, drawing a parallel to how children learn through trial and error.

We also acknowledge the challenges of managing these anxieties in parenting situations. We discuss a struggle with perfectionism in relation to a child’s cello playing, fearing their child will experience failure and judgment. Another speaker emphasizes the importance of unconditional support and avoiding projecting their own anxieties onto their child.

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welcome back it’s recovery sort of the podcast where we explore the struggles of Life the challenges of mental health and Recovery in the spaces between we express our personal views on life here and this podcast is not meant to replace medical advice or tell anyone the right way to live this podcast is best used as a place of curiosity and questioning to accompany you on your journey be aware there is strong language here we


I want to talk about uncertainty all right this is where I’m coming from are you sure just I wasn’t I wasn’t but it felt so good oh so in one of my like circles it was like the question was posed how do you deal with uncertainty so I had to stop and think about that I’d like to think I was a brave or courageous person but when I don’t know what to expect I get anxious and which is funny because I generally like Puzzles and Mysteries you know like I like that process but why am I so apprehensive when I go into a situation that is uncertain and I I will plan like crazy so I I wish I was braver um how do I get there how do I get braver how can I be more comfortable with the unknown is what I’ve been reflecting on wouldn’t getting more comfortable with the unknown make you less Brave yeah you’re right um but I kind of want to get

there I know I know for me in part it’s like a safety thing if I don’t feel safe you know physical or mentally safe then I’m like I have to feel safe so I thought about this trick in my brain I’m like what if I can imagine myself being safe does that make me a little easier going into the unknown so that was a little kind of trick I came up with I just yeah yeah like if I can picture like if I can trick my brain into thinking I do know how it will go like some parts are unknown but I know how well to go enough that I’ll feel safe then I can go on a little braver so I don’t know do how do you guys deal with heading into the unknown and if you want to sing the Frozen song go for it I don’t know it I don’t know the Frozen

Let It Go uh no the only sing in my head oh my god well you have a girl that’s getting older um yeah well I mean I think like let’s start at the basis of the unknown is terrifying I think for all of us that’s a very typical human right I’m not alone reaction to the unknown like what level of unknown though because I love traveling somewhere brand new and not knowing like what it’s going to be like like novelty is amazing you just won a trip I’m giving giv it to you you leave today as soon as this recording ends I ain’t telling you no more than that not where you’re going not anything about it you’ll be surprised when you get there how does that feel I need to know two things nope I need to know what to pack no you don’t it’s the unknown you don’t need to know [  ] but how what if I don’t have clothing it’s the unknown everything I guess I’m paying for extra luggage on the plane well that’s not really dealing with the unknown then it’s being prepared are you going on a plan yeah are you going on a plane I might be taking you next door maybe you’re walking right that luggage might this sounds terrible guys we’re traveling traveling by elephant I

yeah I don’t know I mean I think it’s an it’s scary I this is where like I try to get into like biological DNA processes for humans and trying to think out what part of this is in the animal kingdom what do they have to deal with how do they deal with it what’s natural all that kind of [  ] they don’t think about the future so they don’t have that generally most of them like that’s a a function of our frontal lobe you know that that fancy thing that makes us humans and it’s like yeah we have the ability to consider the future and that actually makes us feel way worse than most of the animals that are alive well and as a person that has a lot of anxiety like it used to feel like every situation I was going into that wasn’t completely planned out was life-threatening so it’s like even taking a trip down to DC to go to a concert was like all right where am I [  ] parking I need all the directions I need blah blah blah where are we going to eat I

need to you know there was no like hey let’s just drive down there and figure it out like I couldn’t deal with that and it felt like oh my we’re going to get into some neighborhood we don’t know we’re going to get shot or mugged or stabbed and yeah it would just that how much you know like I couldn’t deal with that stuff I’m laughing cuz three years ago we took a trip across the US uh with no real great intention except like these three idea spots that we would hit along the way on our imaginary line and like stayed in those neighborhoods and the motel with you know the the lovely sex workers on the corner and uh went to check into a hotel one night and they couldn’t let us in because there was a a standoff situation with the police in one of the rooms so we had to like get a different hotel and like I don’t know it was [  ] amazing it was awesome so we similar I mean that’s how far I’ve come as we similarly jumped in the car with the kids and drove across the country and didn’t really have a plan or destination so I’ve come a long way

hell yeah hell yeah so to me when I hear that that feels like the ability to relinquish control that’s what comes up for me right like I feel when I first got clean like I couldn’t go anywhere without my car like I was no one else was I needed my car so that I could leave a situation if I wanted to um and not scary situations like a restaurant or you know like right I don’t want to be stuck just need to I just need to be able to leave if I want to leave and for me that was control and now I’m able to release that and part of that too I think also is like I have the financial means to leave a situation without my car in you know in the world of uber and having a a job that pays more than minimum wage um but uh yeah to me that’s what I was hearing was was control and and control I guess is a reaction to uncertainty right like we don’t have certainty we want to control as much as we can it’s our attempt to cope with fear it’s our coping strategy it’s just can prove to be a a very limiting coping strategy you know what

I mean it can limit you to the am amount of things you’re willing to go out and try or do in ways that can really limit your ability to interact and have good times with the people around you who don’t feel all that [  ] uh when you’re trying to limit their fun because of your anxiety that’s not very fun for families um yeah it’s it’s interesting um you talk about the safety and I’m just thinking about the nervous system operates under this it needs to know it can protect itself at some level right that’s a cue of safety knowing I can remove myself from a situation that’s uncomfortable is a cue of safety for me and the idea of being stuck in a situation is definitely a CU of danger right and and this is something in a different way I’ve explored with the people in my house is that like

I need to be able to end a conversation when I can’t continue the conversation anymore and like you can’t chase me around the house and bang on doors that I close like this is unacceptable it CU danger for my nervous system and it’s not okay like I need to be able to stop and say I can’t do this right now I need that at a base level and like I feel like that is to allow my nervous system to so that I can have a calmer nervous system when I’m talking right how am I going to have a calm nervous system in a conversation I don’t think I can actually safely leave and I and I feel like that’s

I guess what you were just saying right that makes a lot of sense we would react with that but I think that’s where we get limited right because we can’t control everything about the unknown because it’s the unknown and and maybe that’s the question we’re really asking what do you do when our when our typical strategy of coping is control where do we go next when we can’t control that and I know your attitude going in can help shape it so it’s like is it just positivity is like that all I need I don’t that doesn’t feel like enough though like I’ve tried just positivity it’s not enough there’s something more yeah for me at a base level a lot of times is just telling myself I am going to be okay like

I it starts there you know what I mean so what is this situation and what are my outs like and just sort of getting there and being like okay then whatever else happens I’m good you know as long as I know what my outs are what my limitations are yeah and that resonates for me probably in a less logistical standpoint of like fear of uncertainty fear of getting hurt fear of ending up in a situation that ends up this is a more macro P sense this is not like taking a trip somewhere but um being able to reparent myself and say no matter what we’re going to be okay in this situation even if it doesn’t go the way we want it to or things go badly like no matter what I C I can be okay and having that faith in myself that

I have the internal resources to to get through whatever happens okay so essentially I think we’re talking about affirmations which I’m totally down with um and I think I’ve I’ve done a little bit of that too being like I can land on my feet I’ve had to like convince myself you know what you’ve dealt with [  ] you will land on your feet again it’s different than an affirmation though cuz an affirmation is something that I’m going to repeat to myself outside of the situation where I need it so that I can okay have that internalized whereas the kind of reparenting is in that very moment of I’m feeling something some kind of feeling and then

I’m able to kind kind of talk myself back away from that reactivity so and my biggest area of growth and I don’t know what the therapy world says about this nowadays but and it wasn’t a therapy thing it was just what we did was almost like exposure therapy was like we [  ] sold our house and bought a RV and traveled around the country for three years with our kids with no idea like all right we’re going to go work at this job for the next four months and then that job ends cuz that Campground closes for the winter so I don’t know what the [  ] we’re going to do 6 months from now for income and so we’re just going to figure it out and I was like uh okay like I was terrified I was terrified but was willing to do it you know what I mean we and just did it you know but terrified the whole time yeah I don’t know I don’t know if that’s the greatest plan there’s a

it makes me picture this idea of um there’s there’s a a circle and inside that circle is my comfort zone everything that I am just totally comfortable doing this is like you know my house my bathroom where I feel like I can take a poop and I’m in peace right the circle outside of that just a little bit bigger is places I’m not real real comfortable right um maybe I’ve been there once maybe I’ve never been there maybe I’m kind of know the people maybe this is my second holiday at my partner’s families you know what I mean that kind kind of level like I I think I can tolerate this but it’s really uncomfortable at times and I get a little nervous and then there’s a third bigger circle around that and everything in that circle is trauma you’re just traumatizing yourself at that level and like so it’s a fine line of knowing where our level of Tolerance is where we can be able to stay in a place that’s regulated enough to appreciate what we’re doing for ourselves and get through the experience in a positive way versus there is a place where we’re just kind of forcing ourselves through a traumatic experience and saying we got to the other side and not really it doesn’t really have a whole lot of healthy benefit for us but yeah

in my situation like what we did like I feel like that was my biggest like I came away from that situation feeling like yeah things don’t need to be so scripted and planned out and life is you can kind of roll with it and see what happens and you know what I mean like it it did open me up to a lot of things but I had a lot resources too I had a lot of supports I had family supports you know well I’m thinking two possible things right one just because it was extremely terrifying in the sense for your logical brain you’d never done anything like that or pictured anyone living like that that doesn’t mean your nervous system was necessar disre necessarily disregulated by that like you could have had a sense of calm of this is my wife I trust that we’re going to be okay and our family will be okay and like that’s going to be the the thing you’re you’re drawing on so that probably is a positive experience but also I guess there is the thing that like people go through traumatic [  ] and come out on the other side better off it doesn’t mean it was good or that there wasn’t a better way to get there but that could be true too I guess

you know uh it’s I guess I’m picturing a man search for meaning right that Victor Frankle he went through the Holocaust in one of the concentration camps and then came out of it feeling like a a guy who had a sense of life purpose from it like don’t think I would have put him through it again for for you know what I mean to get there or put someone else yeah well look just go through the Holocaust like Victor Frankle you’ll be [  ] great like that’s probably not the great therapy suggest yeah that’s like people in recovery are like I’m glad I’m an an addict that way I’m a grateful addict because uh you know I went through this I’m a better person like wouldn’t it been nice if you didn’t have to hit your low grateful I’ve been through what I’ve been through I’m not I wish I would handle this differently yeah I’m grateful that the position I’ve been able to get into from what I’ve been through allows me to use it in a way that helps other people that’s what I’m grateful for but yeah I

I take it all back please you can have it yeah I’m grateful but not for the the bad parts so I guess uh I think what Billy and Caroline were trying to express what I heard was a different coping strategy besides the control right when the control runs out and I can’t control what do I do then and it reminded me of a a saying I heard a long time ago actually in a program of recovery um it said the the bird doesn’t land on the branch trusting that the branch won’t break the bird lands on the branch trusting that it has wings you know what I mean and like that encompasses I think what I’m going for when I go against the unknown it’s not finding all the information or the facts or the control or the like that can in a physical sense ease my anxiety but it’s not from my belief really tending to the part of me that gets anxious because that part of me doesn’t trust that I’m a capable human that part of me got programmed that I’m not enough and life’s out to get me and every time I show up I’m going to show up in ways that just aren’t enough and I just won’t win and like that’s the thing

I’m really scared of showing up like that right and like what I try to give myself sitting with the idea that like I’ve been through a lot and I have come through a lot of it and like dealing with I think some of it too is healing from some of that because I think when we’re still kind of unhealed and have that wound it’s hard to you know push through or or or get that other coping strategy of of being able to tell ourselves like I know what to do when things go bad I go off and breathe I go sit in meditation I ask my family for hugs worse like worst case scenario everything goes bad I got a strategy even if it’s just go to my bed and [  ] cry for a little while until I know who to call you know like I so if I can trust that I know how to calm myself and treat myself at my worst I don’t have to be as terrified that I’ll go there is that yeah something you know Jason said

I was just thinking along the same lines it’s like and I use this for a different frame of thinking sometimes it’s like if I picture my life in like fiveyear increments or take my recovery and go back five years like if I look up five years ago from like now I didn’t even own the [  ] house I live in I didn’t live in you know we lived in a camper still I didn’t have the job that I had like and then five years before that well my kids were young and life was way different and things just looked completely different so every five years I go through these like major changes doesn’t feel like it because it’s such a gradual process but like Jason was saying when I look back over the course of like life and recovery and these years it’s like man we’ve been through a lot of [  ] and yet we’re still here and we’re still okay and you know things are actually getting better in our lives and you know that gives me some uh peace to not be so scared of the future or scared of the unknown you can kind of like track like a trajectory like I keep moving up so if

I just keep doing what I’m doing I feel like the thing you’re talking about impacts me in a different way I will go to look for like a a set of pictures from my life that I want to show somebody or revisit and I for the life of me can’t figure out what [  ] time period in my life it was because it feels like it was 40 [  ] years ago and I’m like how how was I that guy four years ago like and it’s so hard to believe how quickly and and drastically we can change in the healing process and I mean you know long term I I’ve been in this healing process but like the short spurts at different times and yeah looking back and I’m like Jesus I was that wasn’t that long ago that I was still operating with some really different behaviors and it’s just hard to believe you know yeah and I was in a meeting the other day and somebody said the typical like a cliche that you hear all the time you know like I never forget you know my last day using and my first and I kind of shared after that I’m like I don’t [  ] remember that [  ] I mean I vaguely but that was 23 years ago I was 26 years old you know what I mean like I

I’ve had kids and got married taking trips like done all kinds of [  ] like I don’t I don’t remember that experience I know it was a bad point in my life I could probably sort of drudge up some vague memories and vague feelings about it but that’s so long ago well I just was wondering like so is there something specific that you’re uncertain about or is there certain things that seem to set you up yeah I guess in the past year and a half or whatever like I just have I you like I know what I’m doing week to week with the family in my life but I just don’t know where I’m going like career or uh because I don’t I’m a stay-at-home mom you know like that’s my career but I’m like I just don’t know what I’m going to do with the resources I have and I realized that like I’m so much I I am the kind of person like you you guys were talking about trips like if I plan a day in New York City yes like

I know what museum I’m going to hit where I’m going to eat which subway we’re going to take I love that the unknown part is like maybe we’ll stop and get coffee I’m like I very like I wonder what weird people will see you know like that’s the unknown part I’m very much I I like to know where I’m going I like to feel you know like safe and secure and have a plan and I think I’m tipping into the two controlling kind of thing and I don’t know where my life is going I I’m I’m impatient like I like I want to have a plan like I want to know exactly what where me and my family are going in the next 5 10 years and I don’t really have a plan and I’m like impatient with that like I feel like I should know I’m just uncomfortable sitting with the unknown instead of chilling out and like following intuitive Clues which is I think what I’m supposed to be doing I’m like I’m anxious like I don’t feel safe or I’m doing something wrong so I’m I’m tipping into the crazy if you know and

I but there’s times though I relax and be like just just go with the flow Jenny but I don’t stay in the flow for too long so I think you’re tapping into another good coping strategy actually um I’m picturing somebody that has a high anxiety around their health right picture upper 30-year-old white male uh obese right eats their feelings doesn’t have a lot of social connection feels stunned by people at work maybe they play video games a little awkward and they have a lot of anxiety around going to the doctors and that they’re going to find out that they have something that’s killing them and like what I think people sitting across from them see easier than they can see in their life is that they’re not really anxious that they have something that they’re going to die from they’re anxious because they can never get moving on any given day to actually do anything about it if they could just take some steps each day and just take a little walk and just eat a little healthier like the anxiety about the terminal thing wouldn’t eat them alive because they’d be taking steps and feeling like they had power in their life but what the problem is is they’re feeling powerless they’re feeling helpless against it and like it’s just going to overwhelm them and they’re going to be to blame because they’re the ones that’s the message they got they are [  ] their life up and like

I think a really good coping strategy is trying to step back from that and say well what steps could I take what part is in my power what you know I can’t control if I already have a terminal illness but what can I do from here to to move away from getting it to lessen my chances because when I can take those steps every day I don’t have as much anxiety about the end result or the outcome because I’m doing my part and so maybe like there’s some piece of that for for your you know example or situation or for anybody else’s like what would be like the steps you could take to limit that anxiety and I think you just touched on it taking the natural things that come in front of you that feel good to you that would get you closer to a sense of direction over time you know what I mean possibly yeah uh the intuitive Clues but then I think my problem is I get impatient and I want all the answers right now which is not how it works it’s hard to be excited about options like

I feel like there’s points in time my life where if you told me I had things to pick from or different future options or ways my life would go that would be like super exciting to sit around and just ponder about for hours like oh man imagine me being this career and doing this that would look like this and we would take these trips and we would interact with I’d have this coffee on Sundays with this like I don’t know that feels like it could be a real fun thing to do too and like I guess what makes it feel like you don’t want to be in that part of this journey what feels like not safe or not enjoyable about that oh I guess um I guess the risk of failure you know like the fear of failure and especially because it’s not just me it’s my kids you know like I don’t want to fail them so it’s I’m that pressure on myself to do it perfect it’s perfectionism so it’s a fear of not knowing if you can do any of these things perfect yeah I think so or at least passible H not just passible like a like a b B+ no C’s a minus May yeah and so many times for me as a person that also fears failure like if if you sort of look at what is failure you know what

I mean like it not working out perfectly is completely unrealistic expectation you know what I mean it might work out perfectly but probably not you know what I mean like it’s like a 90% chance it’s not going to go perfectly so you know what I mean what and sometimes just realistically looking at that like you know when we sold the house and traveled around like well if this fails I don’t know you know what is going to happen and it’s like well what would failure look like like will we be like so poor that they take our kids away and we’re homeless on the streets with our kids and Social Services like is that going to happen like that’s probably not going to happen and worst case we come back and we settle down and we buy a house which is what we ended up doing and it’s like well it didn’t work out the way we had envisioned it but it also wasn’t some catastrophic failure so sometimes looking at what you think failure is can’t yeah no I I love that just over here thinking of my own failures in life

I miserably failed at being a construction worker and all manly and [  ] so I ended up a really great therapist that’s Happy in his job and I miserably failed at meeting the demands of what my original therapy office wanted out of me seeing people each week numbers wise but that led me to a ton of personal growth and a different path of you know partly operating my own business and stuff and you know I failed being a dad for a long time and now I’m a pretty good dad because of that so it’s like every failure failure quotes I’ve had is really just me learning how I don’t want to do it and me in the direction of what I do want and like I know the feeling of that moment of not having the outcome

I want hurts like hell but when I can really remember what’s going on in that process and and and reframe that belief system and that reparenting like all my failures have taken me where I need to be yeah and if I could look at mistakes more as lessons like you two have done I’m just I guess I’m just scared to go there you know like it’s not not a failure it’s a learning lesson but I have to really really live that and think that saying it you know what I mean well and not just let’s go make some mistakes but recognizing that it has value like yeah coming up short or trying things and failing at them actually has a value in and of itself so and what I mean by that is like in my kids you know the school that they go to like they feel like kids trying things and failing and falling short is a huge part of the learning process like to them they’re like oh yeah it’s it’s critical like they can’t learn they can’t become you know really productive and good human beings unless they go through this sort of

I say Crucible but the the experience of like falling short on things trying to do something having it not work out having it Go terribly and then figuring out oh guess what I’m fine we’ll just we’ll try again or we’ll do something different or you know this is what this is why it failed like those things are all so critical to like learning I’m picturing a little kid like trying to stack up blocks to make a tower or something and it keeps falling over cuz you know little kids suck at stacking blocks and you want to run over and help them so bad but man they get so frustrated they walk away they come back and when they get that [ __ ] they are so happy and it’s like that’s that thing we need to know that we can keep coming back and get it and like yeah so if you could if you could write down the list right what happens in this process if I go route a and try this one particular thing that really interests me the most out of all these options and it and it quote unquote fails right well I get the opportunity to show my kids how to get through life when things don’t go the way we hoped

I get the opportunity to reparent myself I keep looking for these opportunities where I’m going to be hurt and need reparenting I get the opportunity to reach out to my friends and rely on them when I’m hurt and vulnerable like I get all these opportunities for positive things out of that moment like if I know that’s the end outcome of all that that doesn’t sound so bad yeah and if I could look at it like a game I think if I take the perspective like oh it’s just a game like when I’m when you’re talking about your kids’s awesome school that they went to like in my mind that’s like well it’s a game it’s just practice like it’s not reality so they make mistakes that’s cool that’s what we’re here to do is just practice but why can’t I adopt that in my adult life like just just go for it maybe it’s because money is so tight like there’s so um little room for risk I mean I’m not going to lose my house or anything like that but like it hurts man if you do something and you lose money you know there’s no buffer for safety like the United States is not a safe place for risking jobs careers education like we don’t really have the setup for that yeah it’s like you better be certain and it’s a little different but like I have a hard time like with my kids in sports like watching them like make mistakes or not get something right like I’ve had to like I just cringe on the inside and want to like correct and fix and you know what I mean it’s so hard to sit back and just be like nice

try but I know that’s the defective part of me that’s doing that it’s not them maybe we need to go this route I uh I got something going on um my my 99-year-old decided he wanted to play cello um and how to picture my 9-year-old uh you know think think ADHD he’s pretty hyper he’s pretty active he’s got a lot to say tells you everything that goes through his brain for the most part or maybe half of it but it’s still a lot um and like doesn’t doesn’t concentrate real well doesn’t practice stuff real well I I don’t know this was just one of those things where I was like I don’t know about this from the get-go and like he’s he’s practicing a little bit around the house for his upcoming spring concert and like yeah he’s practicing around the house for his upcoming Spring Concert right and like there’s that feeling you got Billy that how’s he how would I feel if

I was the kid playing that version for people listening and seeing their reaction or whatever and and it’ll probably be a good reaction I’m sure we’ll all be parents and just clap no matter what at the thing but like I don’t know man that always hurt me so much when I could clearly see through other people’s eyes that had programmed me how I was going to fail and fall short and not look good and like it [  ] kills me to feel like he’s going to have to feel that but maybe if I don’t give it to him he doesn’t have to feel that I don’t know right like I’m trying not to my best I’m just supportive and smiling and shut my [  ] mouth because that’s the best thing I can do a lot of times I went to an elementary school concert at winter time I did to oh it was terrible so bad I’m sure your son’s fine here’s the thing I heard the awfulness at the Winter concert right he didn’t play in that one he just sang and and that was pretty rough too but anyway uh but it was like it was like cute awfulness it was like you recognize the tune but it’s Out Of Tune but it’s so sweet they’re adorable they’re Elementary yeah he don’t play like that that’s my nervous not awful it’s awful awful not cute awful

it’s a little not quite cute awful think um or recognizable at times and like yeah man I’m just really trying to work with like my job is just to be here if he has any feelings about it that’s it right like I don’t it ain’t nothing for me he’s playing he’s happy I’m happy cool but I got that [  ] feeling in me man and that’s that’s a hard one I’m just glad right now I’m glad for the awareness of it and to not react to it but like and that’s like with my son especially after some of his baseball I just I stopped with my judgments of what’s going on I say oh how do you feel how do you feel like you did today you know what what did you know and then I of course I always got to chime in with some sort of helpful information but but that’s my [  ] you know what I mean like I got to recognize like that’s like Jason was talking about it’s me trying to project my feelings onto them but uh like with the uncertainty part you know I just try to uh I guess it’s a recovery thing like have faith that the universe is going to take care of things that there’s some higher power you know hate to say God but there’s like it’s going to be okay it’s just it’s going to go the way it’s supposed to go whether I [ __ ] like it or not and it’s going to happen the way it’s going to

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