Embracing the Wait

How do you handle waiting? And how does waiting contribute to your overall mood or feelings? What makes waiting so uncomfortable? Here are just a few examples of things we all dislike waiting for: waiting to hear about a job you applied for and really want, waiting for someone to text you back after you sent them something vulnerable, waiting for medical test results, and waiting for that special someone to confirm plans.

What is it about this experience that all humans find so unpleasant, frustrating, and daunting? Perhaps it is the uncertainty of waiting, which makes it hard to focus on anything else. Waiting may keep us from being present because we are yearning for the future–the moment in which we no longer need to wait.

Part of embracing waiting means tolerating uncertainty. Worrying or avoiding emotions may be attempts to increase certainty. A person might plan for worst-case scenarios to increase safety and decrease exposure to the unknown. While uncertainty is less than ideal, we are capable of getting through it. You can ask yourself a few of the following questions the next time you are waiting for something:

  1. Have I endured something similar in the past?
  2. What is a possible positive outcome to this waiting period?
  3. If a friend came to me with this worry, what would I tell them?
  4. What is it about waiting that makes me feel this way?
  5. What can I do while I am waiting that will help me better take care of myself?
  6. Is it possible to be one hundred percent certain? If not, how can I make room for uncertainty?
  7. Have I made up scenarios about the possible outcome of waiting? Is there any evidence to support this outcome?
  8. Even if the worst outcome happens, what are the ways I could get through it?
  9. What can I do to occupy my time right now?
  10. Will I always have to wait?

When things feel heavy, see if you can make it to the next moment, day, or week. Waiting is not easy, but sometimes we need to take it moment by moment and let the feelings pass.

If you would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics, such as the one featured in this blog, and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.

Written by Liz, Mental Health Counseling Master’s Level Intern


Psychology Tools. (2021, July 21). Embracing Uncertainty. https://www.psychologytools.com/resource/embracing-uncertainty/

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