Sometimes life can cause us to feel tangled up inside.
When we've got a difficult decision to make; when we're in a challenging situation that we can't figure our way out of; when we're overwhelmed with life; when we're in a conflict with someone we love.
This tangle can be uncomfortable at best, painful at worst.
In these situations, our instinct may be to try to work really hard trying to untangle the knot.
Sometimes this works. Other times, the working at it can make us feel even more twisted up, or can make the situation less clear or more complicated.
Sometimes the thing to do is to *not* work at it for a while--to give it a little room to breathe.
When we give the knot some space, sometimes it begins to loosen on its own; or it allows us to return to it with a new perspective, with more room inside of ourselves, and more capacity to face the thing.
[Sidebar: How can we tell if "giving it space" isn't really procrastination in disguise??
Great question, Fara!!!
That can be hard to discern. Let's take a moment to explore this...
First of all, I think sometimes procrastination gets a bad rap... There are times when it's good to "avoid" something and come back to it later because it's not time to figure it out just yet.
If you're worried about this because of a known tendency to avoid, here are a few thoughts:
End of sidebar]
Sometimes we try to tackle the knot all at once, which can leave us feeling overwhelmed or exhausted or confused. Or we may become frozen trying to decide where to begin.
Another option is to just pick a place in the knot and give it a gentle tug. Which place, you ask?? Any old place will do!
If possible, try not to get caught up in this decision. If you find yourself endlessly spinning in circles trying to figure out the "right" way to start on a problem or decision, consider that this might be perfectionism at play. (Should I start here? What about here? No, that's not right? There must be a better way to approach this? How about here?).
Perfectionism stops us in our tracks. It will never feel perfect so this reasoning will keep you stuck forever.
Instead of worrying about what the "right" place is to start, or trying to tackle this big tangled knot all at once, we can pick something that's sticking out a little bit and just to begin to loosen it.
We may find that this tugging leads nowhere, or we may find that in loosening this one piece something else opens up, maybe even in a totally different part of the knot, something that we couldn't have anticipated.
Sometimes the thing to do is just to start the loosening.
Have you ever had a situation where stepping away for a bit, or doing "nothing," ended up being the best possible thing to do?
I'd love to hear your examples below.
fara tucker, lcsw
therapist~consultant~teacher in Portland, Oregon