Dr. Julia DiGangi is a neuropsychologist who completed residency at Harvard Medical School, Boston University School of Medicine, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. DiGangi has also researched genetics, trauma, resilience, and more at Columbia, Chicago, and Georgetown Universities. She has nearly two decades of experience studying the link between our brain and behavior.


Early in my career, one of my patients, Jerry, said to me, “I never know when my dad is going to beat the crap out of me, so I’m going to piss him off in the morning. Better get it out of the way.” “

This was my early exposure to one of the most powerful forces in our lives: uncertainty. Uncertainty is life’s promise to all of us. For more than two decades, I’ve watched people rise from unspeakable pain to once again venture into a future full of uncertainty. I work with people who have experienced shocking trauma, and our early conversations were predictably filled with questionable pleas for some kind of safety: “How can I be absolutely sure that something like this won’t happen again? ‘ they asked me.

The answer is: they can’t.

What still takes my breath away, many years later, is the grace and courage of people who accepted this truth and said: I rise again not because I am sure, but because I hope anyway.

Suffering from uncertainty is a well-studied neuropsychological phenomenon.For example, when researchers hooked people up to machines that delivered electric shocks, people reported feeling more distressed when they were unsure if They may be shocked, not convinced will Shocked. This tells you something important: Your emotional feelings surrounding an uncertain situation can literally be more painful than your physical pain.

Because uncertainty can be so distressing, your brain spends a lot of time trying to avoid it. But it is changing your relationship to this energy, which will empower you. The big shift begins when you learn that uncertainty cannot be fully understood on a situational level. If you try to design your life according to the specific situation, you will hinder your emotional development. Trying to reduce the uncertainty of every situation that arises drains your energy because you don’t understand the deeper dynamics that create emotional pain in every situation.

The energy of uncertainty has a predictable rhythm and it reliably makes you think and feel whatever the circumstances. When you shift your focus from resolving each unresolved scene to the people around you, your emotions become stronger. Routinely Become a shadow of uncertain energy.

We’re not trying to avoid uncertainty – because we can’t. Instead, we are learning how to use it. This is an extremely important distinction because, paradoxically, it is what you do to avoid uncertainty—rather than uncertainty itself—that causes most of your emotional pain.

“Overdoing”—overthinking, overworking, overdoing, and so on—is a pain-avoiding response.You may work because you love it, but you Exceedwork because of what you are afraid of possible It will happen if you don’t.The act of thinking may give you a lot of pleasure, but ExceedThoughts are cruel. When giving is pleasant, ExceedGiving is running out.

“Excessive” is a defense against anxiety. The logic is: if I work more, give more, think more, then I will be safe.All forms of anxiety—from mild to pathological—can be understood as A dysfunctional relationship with certainty.

To rise up strong in the face of a life completely devoid of certainty, it helps to first recognize the pervasive behavior of the energy of uncertainty. Let me illustrate this by giving you a clinical example, which I will then apply to your own life. Take post-traumatic stress disorder, for example. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cannot be diagnosed when people are in the throes of active trauma such as combat.You Can’t Diagnose PTSD In The Middle Of A War Zone Because Of The Reactions That Cause PTSD sick in a non-traumatic setting highly adaptable In the midst of trauma. If you’re in the middle of a war, being hypervigilant, constantly alert, or unable to sleep could save your life.

Pathology emerges when people return to a safe environment but safety-seeking behavior persists.For example, I’ve worked with veterans who refused to drive, take public transportation, eat at restaurants, shop at stores, or go to crowded places like hotels or movie theaters because it felt like that Can very dangerous. The (often unconscious) strategy is to stay safe by avoiding the uncertain. In other words, avoiding these places is an act of safety-seeking. The problem, however, is that it is not the trauma that sustains their pathological anxiety, but the trauma. this is for security. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is not dangerous things becoming dangerous, but dangerous things becoming dangerous. It’s about not being able to think of safe things as safe.

In your own life, the things you do to avoid pain — overwork, overwork, overpay, overcommit — are the primary cause of your pain. Extreme safety-seeking is at the heart of every painful form of anxiety: PTSD, social anxiety, generalized anxiety, OCD. The points here are relevant whether or not you suffer from clinically significant anxiety. At some point, the behaviors you use to protect you from uncertainty turn into behaviors that hurt you.

While the circumstances in your own life may not be as extreme as PTSD, the energy is flowing the same way. For example, you’re not sure if people really like you, so you go too far around them, trying to be some version of what you think they think you should be. Then you wonder why you find those around you so draining. You’re not sure your social media followers care enough about you and your content, so you overproduce, creating content even when you’re exhausted, and then wondering why you feel so exhausted.

The energy of uncertainty is at the root of all your forms of anxiety. But there’s more. The energy of uncertainty travels through your nervous system in much the same way, regardless of the circumstances that produced it. It works on your brain and body in predictable ways. Neurophysiological studies have shown that even mild uncertainty can lead to changes in physiology, including activation of brain regions involved in threat detection and decision-making and increased sweating. Do certain situations make your mind race more or your heart beat faster? Sure, but it’s a difference of degree, not type. In other words, the energy of uncertainty affects your nervous system in similar ways in a variety of different situations.

You take back your power when you realize that the energy of uncertainty is no longer there exist the situation is Situation-creating energy in itself. Your situation doesn’t make you wonder “what if?” Instead, it’s an act of anxiously wondering “what if?” This determines your situation.

To harness the energy of uncertainty in a way that enhances your leadership, become the hero of your own story.

Reprinted with permission from Harvard Business Review Press.Adapted from Energy Rising: The Neuroscience of Leading with Emotional Power Author: Julia Diganji. Copyright 2023 Julia Diganji. all rights reserved.

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