Thursday, October 15, 2009


Life is uncertain. This may sound like a simple statement but uncertainty is what is responsible for each individual’s life experience. I believed for the longest time that children needed security and certainty when what they really need is for someone to assure them that they are capable and able to cope with life’s uncertainty and they don’t have to be afraid. Nothing they do will make life more certain and when something happens good or bad it is simply life happening.

Children that grow up in alcoholic/addictive homes learn very early that the only thing for sure in life is nothing is for sure. Unfortunately that lesson is distorted by the belief that they are responsible for the behavior of their parents or caregivers. That if they are good enough, quiet enough, smart enough or successful enough they can control the addictive behavior. They are convinced that they are the cause of the problems and are responsible for fixing them. Many children of alcoholic/addict families grow up believing that they have to find a way to control life and not live with uncertainty. As adults we not only believe we can control everything, control becomes our primary focus. We attempt to control our environment and the people around us and we are constantly frustrated in the attempts. This reinforces our sense of worthlessness and failure. We take life’s uncertainty personally.

If only we knew that simple truth, “life is uncertain” that it cannot be controlled and what we need to do is learn how to cope with the uncertainty. How does one learn to cope with uncertainty? The twelve step programs teach us that it requires courage as well as awareness, acceptance and action. First we need to be aware that uncertainty is a fact of life and certainty is non existent. Nothing we did in the past or will do can cause, control or fix life. Life is worth living and experiencing. We neither deserve all the good things in life or all the bad things in life. We need to learn to embrace the joy and the pain. We just need to live our life in the moment, to the best of our ability.

Next we need to have the courage to show up for ourselves each day. We need to accept that we cannot control outcomes and we are not responsible for outcomes. Most alcoholic addicts are very anxious people we are afraid to live our lives or pursue our dreams because of the uncertainty of the outcome. In order to pursue any goal, love another human being, have a family or simply make a decision we need to be willing to suffer the anxiety that comes with not being able to predict the outcome. Each time we accept that challenge we gain another level of acceptance and ability to endure uncertainty. The twelve step programs provide the support and the steps to learn how to “live life on life’s terms one day or one moment at a time”. I know I have already said this but the action we need to take is “to just live life”.

I will leave you with this quote: “Uncertainty is the only certainty there is, and knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security.”
John Allen Paulos

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