Our culture has changed immensely as a result of the smartphone. We can get reassurance for every doubt just by texting our friends. We can feel approval by getting "likes" on our Instagram post or Facebook status.
But heavy reliance on devices is responsible for a shift in how we regulate our emotions. A by-product of this instant communication is a diminished ability to sit with uncertainty.
Intolerance to uncertainty has been shown to underlie a range of psychological difficulties.
Psychologists could consider a person's over-reliance on their phones as a "safety seeking behaviour" which reduces anxiety in the moment.
But over time, safety behaviours actually feed anxiety because they prevent people from realising their fear has no basis once the situation has actually unfolded, or that it is something they're able to cope with.
We need to retrain ourselves to stand up to such clear manipulation of their FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and fear of rejection. Learning to face uncertainty is essential to managing our mental health.
Being more comfortable with uncertainty improves a person's ability to cope with worry and is closely associated with improvement for those experiencing anxiety.
When treating anxiety, psychologists encourage clients to sit with not knowing the outcome of a particular situation and learning to wait to see if what they are afraid of will eventuate.
By sitting with uncertainty, a person gradually learns to distract themselves, let go of trying to control situations and realises they can survive the distress of "not knowing" in the situation.
Mostly after waiting it out, the feared outcome will not eventuate, or it will be tolerable.
Using phones to push the worry onto another person prevents self-management from occurring.
Often, we don't realise that after a little while (and sometimes a lot of distraction), the unpleasant feeling will go away.
Keep in mind the old adage that "no news is good news" and resist the tendency to message first.
If something unpleasant happens, it is healthy to talk to someone and reflect on a situation that upsets us, especially if it is really important.
However, to have this as the first option to manage every doubt is not healthy.
Being able to wait and let go of the desire to control each situation is a major key to overcoming anxiety.