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  • Dina Cohen

Tolerating Uncertainty

These are strange times we're living in. It seems like the rug's been suddenly pulled out from under us and no one knows what to expect.

Most people don't particularly enjoy uncertainty, but if you are someone who struggles with disordered eating, chances are that you have an especially challenging time managing it.

You might eat to find comfort or in order to distract yourself from the unsettling feeling of not knowing what will happen. You might eat to experience some relief from your anxiety or to numb out.

Conversely, you might feel an urge to restrict your eating to gain a sense of control in a chaotic world.

You might feel like you just need to do something, even though deep down you know there isn't much you can actually do - which is the scariest thought of all. Many people feel that if they just do everything right, they can prevent the bad stuff from happening. But in times like these, that defense mechanism starts to crumble. We realize that we don't have control, after all.

Rabbi Moss of Sydney, Australia, addresses this in a beautiful way:

Question of the Week: "This coronavirus thing has really thrown me. I feel like I've lost all sense of certainty. No one knows what will happen next. How do we stay sane when we don't know what's lurking around the corner?" Answer: "It is not that we have lost our sense of certainty. We have lost our illusion of certainty. We never had it to begin with. This could be majorly unsettling, or amazingly liberating. This tiny virus of 125 nanometres* has sent the entire world into chaos. All of our plans are up in the air, markets are going crazy, entire countries shutting down, and we have no clue what the future holds. But that is always the case. We never know what the future holds. We only think we do, and keep getting surprised when things don't pan out the way we expected. Now the mask is off. We have to admit our vulnerability. What will happen next? We don't know. Our experts don't know. Our leaders don't know. Only G-d knows. And that is the point. Only G-d knows. Close your eyes and feel the uncertainty, make peace with it, let yourself be taken by it. Embrace your cluelessness. Because in all the confusion there is one thing you know for sure. You are in G-d's hands. Keep calm. Panic and fear are also contagious. Take every precaution as advised by health authorities. Wash your hands well. And every time you do, remember whose hands you are in."

The thought that you aren't in control can be scary, but as Rabbi Moss points out, it can be liberating. Your actions are important, but they don't determine the outcome. You aren't the one pulling the strings.

Ultimately, you don't get to choose your circumstances, including your background, your family, your health, and your body. You can choose positive behaviors, but you cannot control things.

This is a GOOD thing.

You were created the way you were for a reason.

Your life is set up the way it is by design.

You don't have to worry about getting it all right.

You don't have to carry the world on your shoulders.

Somebody else is already carrying it.

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