Without clarity and definition we get to live in the swamp of uncertainty and darkness, never quite sure of what is to come or how well we will do relative to some undefined goal and not knowing where one stands in life and love or anything.

What if you were a child, worried about whether your parents would take off and leave you, worrying if you will please them enough to love you and to stay around to feed and take care of you - AND you did not have any idea of what to do that would please them or how much was enough?  You did not know what was expected of you.  How anxious and fearful do you think you would be?

What if you were an adult living analogously to the child, somehow still thinking you were dependent and not quite powerful enough on your own, and you were trying to be "good enough" for others, trying to get their approval, trying to fill what seems like a bottomless pit.  What if you didn't know what was enough? 

And then you'd try to live a life.  With all the stress and fear, you would be likely to avidly seek peace of mind, some relief from the relentless demands in life (in your head, not in reality).  You then practiced meditation, trying to tamp down the anxiety.  But somehow, for some reason that you didn't quite understand, meditation just didn't work for you. 


Meditation is a fine thing to do, but in this case it is trying to "cure the symptoms".  If that's all people do, though it helps, the "problem" will never be solved.  We need, more importantly, to identify the cause and then "cure the cause" so that problem didn't just keep on happening.  (We would follow the always true reality of Cause And Effect.)


One of the key causes in the lives of those who live in anxiety, fear, and/or having to seek approval to be ok is that there is lots of lack of clarity and lots of lack of definition. The person has no way of knowing what "enough" is or when he/she reaches the goal or, in this case, even worse, no idea at which point there is no further threat. 

The threat lives on and one. 

Yet they do not even know what the threat is.  And if they thought it ought and clarified it, they would find that the threat is not really a valid threat!  (See Threats And "Fear" - Differentiating As What What Is Legitimate (Real) Threat, and read the related pieces.)

Even if they did not achieve full clarity and definition, if they defined at least some criteria that was meetable, they could reduce their anxiety.

Say, "if I have 5 close friends, then I must be ok."  At least, you could have a clear goal, certainly clearer than trying to have a 100 friends and frantically trying to achieve the unachievable (which is called "more" or "never enough").

People who have lack of clarity on how much is enough have overfilled schedules that never provide satisfaction, don't know their limits, set no limits or boundaries, and never have enough of what they think they want.  They even aim for the wrong goals, as they haven't clarified all the elements and endpoints to the process of determining what is a good goal.  They haven't determines that "more friends" is not a valid goal necessarily, as they might not have completed the chain of questions to get to the end point of the chain. They need to ask "Well, why do you want more friends?"

And perhaps the answer would be "well, so I can feel good enough because of their approval".  So that really means that "more friends" (and we should ask how many is enough also) is not the goal any more than more money will lead a person to be happier. It is a "surrogate" goal.  The real goal is "to feel good enough about myself" (which would then be better defined, perhaps, as "feeling I am smart enough" or that "I am giving enough", or whatever elements that might comprise "feeling good enough".   


In uncertainty, one fear cascades into another, triggering the alarm system more and more, causing the primitive brain to "ramp it up" and look more desperately for match ups of negatives and possible solutions, throwing itself into a panic - and causing more fears (coughed up "data" from the primitive brain) and more of a cascade of fear! 

But if one begins to tie something down here and then another thing over there and then another...the cascade begins to let up...and then the volume of it all goes down...and then there is less and less uncertainty... and then as you define more things and use definitive problems solving and do The Certainty Generators, you come out of the other end of the tunnel!


There is always more clarity from writing something down and putting the facts in black and white.   It hardly ever can be worked out in one's head - it is a classic error to not do the exercise in writing and to completion (i.e. never stop until there is a satisfactory conclusiong, even if you have to go to someone else to help complete it!).  (See, and learn, Why Do It In Writing - The Effects Of Writing It Down.)


A person has an operation to replace two knees and somehow is anticipating that after a few weeks, she is not doing so well and that that means she might never do well and she isn't measuring up to what a person would accomplish if she were doing all the right things.  She is caught in a swamp of uncertainty, with alligators ready to rip her apart with fear and guilt (she hasn't done enought) and some criticism from not meeting up to standards. 

There are two parts here, which are the two parts that always produce the unhappiness gap (and in this case the "anxiety" gap based on uncertainty).  The two parts are "unrealistic expectations" and "undervaluation" of oneself.

She must clarify how realistic her expectations should be.  Perhaps they were mentioned to her and she focused on the low end of the time, for certainly she "should" be expected to be the great performer she has always been, recovering quickly. 

As always, because there is anxiety and uncertainty, she needs to "write down" all of what is relevant and not try to do it in her head, where nothing seems to be able to be tacked down by us humans. 

What is the range of recovery time?  "Six weeks to three months, as people vary in how fast they recover."

"Will I still experience pain even after that and, if so, what level?"

And then she needs to address the gap in her performance versus what she "should" be doing.  "Physical therapist, I've been doing this and this for this amount of time every day.  Is there something else I should do?  Am I doing it right?"  And if the therapist does not know enough of the answers, push through to email or go to your regular doctor and express the questions or do everything necessary to establish the facts, even google it or read a book on it - but do, please, tack it down! 

And then, again, in writing, write down a realistic, self-compassionate, understanding conclusion:  "Yes, I am doing this in the right range, though not perfectly.  And it is a process that takes a while.  And, yes, I do not know exactly how it goes, but it appears that it will clear up and it is very unlikely that there will be much remaining pain (at least, if there is any, it will be more of a creakyness and a minor pain)."

And, here's another one...


"I seek Christlike attributes.  And, yes, I understand that you say I might be seeking those as only a means to the end - and I haven't defined what that 'end' is.

And I'm not doing well with the developing of those either.  And I think 'fear' has something to do with that goal as well.  Fear that I won't match up at the end."

Yes, indeed, that would be quite daunting.  This is a bit like seeking to be Superwoman in life, the perfect mother, the perfect (and patient) wife, the perfect friend, the perfect giver...  All of those are limitless, unachievable, undefined as to what it takes and how to reach them...

This could also be, because it is so important and so confused in your mind, something that you'll need help dealing with.

But it would be helpful to write down as much about it as you can, and then to share it with the other person. 

Just list, in a non-perfect manner, the specific traits that you can think of that you'd like to achieve.

Why do you want those Christlike attributes/behaviors/wisdom/traits or whatever?  To get into Heaven or to receive God's approval?

What would God reasonably expect of you?  (Write it down, quickly and imperfectly!)

And then you might likely best try to derive the thinking that God might have such that he would expect certain things of you?  Would God be enlightened or be punishing?  Would he expect perfection or would he be compassionate?  (See Is God Compassionate?)  Define specifically what God is likely like, how he views things, his level of love, what he truly might want for you.  (See Living Life To Please God, On The Way To Heaven.)  And then ask "well, if I hold such high criteria for myself, that must mean that there will be very few people qualifying and would God really want that?" 

Define, clarify, write it down, get help, and don't stop until you have a satisfactory and complete and reasonable conclusion that adds certainty and definition!  ("I might not 'match up at the end'" might not be true or clear enough.  Is it all or nothing?  Are you only human?...)