Uncertainty is at the forefront of what we teach our clients, along with distress tolerance. During this time with the Coronavirus, we are all heaped in uncertainty and distress. It has been interesting to see how well our clients are doing. There are different hypotheses for this: They live with extreme levels of anxiety every day so this is nothing more than their typical experience; They finally feel some validation and it is coming from everyone in the world; They are skilled because you have taught them how to live with uncertainty, how to lean in to fear, how to take risks, and how to live in the present moment. What ever the reason, we need to celebrate their successes, support those who need it, and ask our clients to help us share this approach to living well with anxiety with others.
One of my clients with agoraphobia flew to Florida one week before the mandated shut down of businesses. He took pictures of himself flying and looked so proud! He had to end his vacation early but told me, “at least I faced my fears and went!” On his flight home, he sat next to a stranger who was panicking. He was able to share everything he had learned to help this person get through the flight successfully. By the end of the flight, they were both looking out the window and smiling. That’s the thing about choosing to do what you value even with anxiety. It makes you stronger, more confident, and connected to the belief that it is possible to live with uncertainty and handle distressing situations.
As you work with your clients during these uncertain times, ask them what they are learning about their ability to handle adversity. What are the silver linings? Ask them what they would have believed before the Coronavirus about their ability to handle such adversity. Help them be grateful for the skills they have and how they are using them each day.
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