Intolerance of uncertainty is part of the essence of depression and anxiety. The emergence could well be explained as our tendency not to accept change as positive or constructive.
Intolerance of uncertainty plays a key role in our tendency to worry too much. The way we have to accept uncertainty or the unknown can put a dent in our emotional state. It can even promote the appearance of emotional problems such as anxiety and depression.
Sometimes we seem to be allergic to new things, changes and the complications they bring. We are afraid to accept that things will not be the way they used to be. This leads us to close ourselves off and not pay attention to other possibilities that can lead to improvement.
What is intolerance of uncertainty and what is it based on?
By definition, intolerance to uncertainty is a personal trait made up of negative beliefs about uncertainty and what it entails.
Recent data suggests that intolerance to uncertainty is focused on the future. Yet it is not the same as an intolerance of doubt that affects the present moment.
Thus, we can emphasize that it is represented by two dimensions:
- Intolerance focused on the future is the idea that unforeseen events are very difficult. This type of reasoning pattern is mainly considered to be a specific vulnerability of problems related to anxiety and depression.
- Inhibitory Intolerance: When the slightest doubt blocks you and causes you to abruptly stop what you are doing. This particular factor is usually present in pathologies such as OCD.
Intolerance of uncertainty is a transdiagnostic concept that is more widely considered when evaluating emotional problems such as anxiety and depression. Understanding the value of this concept can help us deal with all those thoughts and emotions more effectively. All those thoughts and emotions that disturb us inside create a huge discomfort.
Why it’s important to make our thoughts flexible
In this regard, we point out that the search for absolute certainty always leads to nothing but unhappiness. Not everything is cause and effect. In fact, nothing is absolute in this life we lead. We all tend to ask ourselves things like this: What would happen if all these aches and pains were symptoms of an underlying disease? What would happen if I don’t find a good job?
The answers we give ourselves to these kinds of questions, as well as the frequency and type of events that generate them, are determining factors in developing this tendency as a dangerous habit. People with depression, anxiety or similar problems are usually disaster thinkers, or negative in nature.
We react strongly to uncertainty because we are in love with certainty. We like to have everything planned. This often leads to an overestimation of the negative consequences of events we know little about. This also includes events that do not match the expectation of what we consider ‘normal’.
Our attempts to increase our certainty lower our tolerance for uncertainty and may lead us to become more and more concerned. If, on the other hand, you increase your tolerance for uncertainty, this actually decreases your worries. This is a synonym of being more flexible.
We can really learn to tolerate uncertainty better. After all, it’s a habit you can work on. First, you can examine the reaction you have when faced with unfamiliar situations. Then you can try to think explicitly about the possibility that this event could happen in a lot of different ways. Ways that may not exactly match our expectations.
Because if not tolerating uncertainty makes us more rigid and unhappy, tolerating it can help us be more flexible and thus become happier. Often the key to change and achieving full emotional health lies where we least expect it. And this finding is a perfect example of this.
Source of interest for specialists:
Sandín, B., Chorot, P. y Valiente, R. (2012). Transdiagnostico. Nueva Frontera and Psicologia Clinica.
Revista de Psicopatologia and Psicologia Clinica, 17, 3, pp. 185-203.