By the time we’re adults, most of us recognize that life holds many uncertainties, despite careful planning, discipline, and good habits. This is brought into stark relief when you or a loved one receives a diagnosis that carries with it an uncertain outcome. And for many, the array of possible outcomes from a serious medical diagnosis is not just limited to living or dying, but living in some different – often compromised – way. Fears and anxieties can be instantly enveloping, and they can have many dimensions, from the profound to the mundane (it would be great if all serious problems caused us to never again “sweat the small stuff,” but that isn’t always the case).
Psychodynamic psychotherapy involves learning about yourself — about your relationships with others; your relationships with important topics such as money, work, and sex; your patterns and defenses; the unconscious, and how your own functions to help and/or get in the way. For many of us, it also involves learning how to tolerate not knowing, and finding a way to keep one’s balance despite uncertainty. We often take action in the face of uncertainty in order to avoid the anxiety that so often accompanies the unknown. When the uncertainty has to do with one’s health, and when there is no obvious action to take, we must learn to tolerate not knowing what the future holds, and to live with whatever we know right now.
There’s no magic involved. It takes practice, and patience. But we can grow in new ways even as we find ourselves diminished in others, and that can be powerful.