Stress Management: How to Avoid the Ruts and Holes of Life
Have you ever noticed how we keep falling into the same holes and ruts in life? We know something doesn't work and yet we keep doing the same things over and over again.
Have you ever wondered why we do this? And more importantly, how do we stop doing it, how do we stop "digging"? And how do we get out?
As I've studied and searched over the years for ways to help people get the changes they want, quickly, gently and effectively, I've stumbled across a poem that seems to capture well the process of change.
It's called "An Autobiography in Five Short Chapters." I wish I knew who the author is, I want to thank the person. Let's look at each of these chapters, and what they have to teach us about the process of change.
Chapter One - "I walk down the road. There's a big a hole in the road. I don't see it. I fall in. It's not my fault. It's dark and scary. It takes me a long time to get out."
We've all had the experience of winding up in a hole and wondering how we got there. It seems like we were minding our own business, and all of a sudden we wind up in a situation we never intended. Or as Jimmy Buffet once sang, "......trying to figure out how I ever got here."
Chapter Two - "I walk down the road. There's a big a hole in the road. I don't see it. I fall in. It's not my fault. It's dark and scary. It takes me less time to get out."
Here we go again. If the first time came as a surprise, this is getting to be a habit, or a pattern.
Denial and blame tend to show up at this point in the game. Denial says "what do you mean, what's my part?" Blame says "someone else did this to me, and just wait until I find them!"
At this point we are still digging the hole, and are just not aware of it yet. This is where the rut begins. It's important to remember that "the only difference between a rut and a grave are the dimensions."
Chapter Three - "I walk down the road. There's a big a hole in the road. I see it. I fall in anyway. Maybe I've got something to do with this. It's dark and scary. I get out."
Don'tcha just hate it when you know better, you even know you know better, and yet you wind up in the same place again.
Here's when change can begin to occur, because we begin to see our part in the problem. Good questions to ask are -
What's my part in this?What am I willing to do to change this?What am I willing to stop doing to change this?
It's also important to remember my favorite definition of stuck is "when we keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results."
Chapter 4 - "I walk down the road. There's a big a hole in the road. I see it. I walk around it."
Good job! You're starting to pay attention, and make progress. Here's the not so good news. It's not enough. "What do you mean, it's not enough? Didn't I stay away from the hole?"
Yes, you did. And while that's good, in the words of southern rock group Molly Hatchet, your "flirtin' with disaster."
"Why is that?"
Because you are still on the same road, and human nature has a curious feature. We tend to forget how bad things were, and we can fall into the trap of checking out the hole "just one more time", just to make sure it was really that bad. Like an alcoholic in a bar or a dieter at an all you can eat buffet, you are flirting with disaster.
Chapter Five - "I walk down a different road."
While chapters one through four do involve some amount of change, it's still not real change. There's lots of movement and things may even look different, but it's still "change without change."
The real change, that is transformation, can go something like this four step process -
1 - you do the same thing again and then realize it afterwards
2 - you do the same thing again and realize it while you are doing it
3 - you realize you are about to do the same thing before you do it, and do something different
4 - you automatically do something different
The beauty of "walking down a different road" is that transformation has taken place. Not only do you no longer fall in the old holes, you find that you don't even want to. They no longer hold any interest or attraction for you.
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