Coping when what you rely on is suddenly no longer there
Listening to Roger Soloman speak recently about using EMDR with clients who are grieving, I was taken with the concept of the assumptive world. It resonated for me much more broadly than just in the context of grief.
Solomon described our assumptive world as “the set of assumptions about the world, the self, and others, that help one to feel safe, capable, and in control of what happens to oneself and, in some ways, those around you.” He notes that this gives us a sense of the universe as benign, of the world as meaningful and of our self as worthy.
When something happens that disrupts our assumptive world, be it a death, the loss of a relationship, of a job or any other significant shift in life, it can leave us with a number of effects. We may grapple with meaning, question our faith in things we previously just knew were true, ruminate about causes, responsibility and blame and/or feel guilty. It has a profound effect on our sense of ourself, and of others and the world.
These shifts may be caused by a single event that takes seconds, but our adaptation to them and integration of what has happened can take much longer. We have to let go of what was, and find our way forward through not knowing and discovering, until a new assumptive world begins to form. This is uncomfortable and can be difficult. It is, however, completely normal. It will ease with time, and new things will be possible.
If you are transitioning from one world to another, know that you are not alone, and that in time what makes no sense will find its resting place. And hang in there.