A lot of therapy is about sort of stepping back and seeing things – seeing yourself – from a different perspective. Getting out of the weave and the warp of the moment and looking more at the whole fabric of the situation you’re in. Seeing if there’s any repeating motifs or themes that might help you unlock some solutions… or even unlock parts of you.
And the wonderful thing is that you can do this without being in formal therapy.
Don’t get me wrong, traditional therapy is a great way to get the hang of this pattern-spotting business. And it’s incredibly powerful to work with someone who’s got your back and can help you see any blindspots you might have. But once you’ve become a pattern watcher, you can use it anytime you like, to find deeper insights and often deeper healing, too.
So what sort of things might you try to notice? What helps spot the patterns?
Sometimes questions like these are a good place to start:
I was winding my way through the early morning rush hour at the station, past crowds of people blurring by, when this strange little moment of stillness opened up.
And then I saw it: a lost sole.
(In the picture, above).
A visual metaphor, reminding me of the times I’ve felt a bit like a lost soul myself. Or the times I’ve spoken with clients in counselling who felt they’d lost touch with their sense of soul and the things that really mattered to them.
Have you ever felt that way?
Where maybe some part of you was lost?
Maybe covered over by sadness or grief?
Or buried alive under a pile of convention or expectation that you felt you “should” live up to?
Or maybe you just became so busy you gradually lost sight of it?
There are so many ways to lose touch with what really matters in your life – to let the everyday grind take over instead. Or to let habits or old thought patterns get in the way.
Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and reconnect with yourself. To remind yourself of what you want this life of yours to be all about. To find yourself again.
But how might you do that?
Grief. It comes to fill our hollows of loss. To accompany our loneliness. To be with our pain.
So when you’ve lost someone important in your life, by death or distance; or if you’ve lost a certain hope for the future; you may find a sense of grief. Or maybe it finds you…
It’s all a bit of an enigma sometimes. For grief is a something in the middle of a new nothing. A heaviness in the emptiness.
And, often, with grief can come tears. Even if you don’t always let yourself cry them…
At this time of year, with all the special occasions and anniversaries and expectations, all those un-cried tears – both old and new – can make themselves felt all the more.
So where do you keep yours?
Where do you actually carry them, your un-cried tears*?
Written in careful chalk along the the bare brick walls of a house a few streets away from where I live, these words (in the photo) seem to form a kind of urban haiku:
Does that feel true for you?
Is that how you could perceive of love?
If so, where is this place of love in your life?
Time does so many things in our lives (or at least our conception of it, and relation to it does).
Some think it ‘heals all wounds’.
Or that it’s ‘on their side’.
Or that it moves too quickly.
That it ‘conquers all’ (as the photo suggests).
That it rules our calendars with appointments and obligations.
That it frames our very lives…
Who knows what this time stuff actually is?..
But one thing it seems to do (at least in our experience of it) is, it moves.
So do you move with it?
Or have you been left languishing somewhere in the past, re-living what you used to be or know or have or aspire to? Are you lost in times gone by?
This photo was taken in a local second-hand bookstore, a huge place crammed with an infinity of books. It seems to have a lot more order to it now, but some years back, the chaos was almost breathtaking.
This particular aisle gives a sense of how most of the shop used to be: perilous piles listing and leaning all over the place, with narrow paths cut through the clutter for the brave at heart. In fact, there were piles in front of piles, completely blocking the shelves where yet more books crouched in the dark.
It was a hard place to find anything in. Hard to use. You kind of had to dive in, hold your breath, let serendipity lead you, and hope to come out alive.
Walking in here again the other day led to thoughts of internal clutter.
What might that be for you?
I bought a little blue leather-bound photo album at a flea market many years ago. It’s full of someone else’s memories, captured in the black and white of the 1930s. And it offers an imaginative, somewhat eerie experience as you flip through it and wonder at what these memories might have meant to their owner (who is probably long gone).
The first image in the album (above) is of a train wreck…
So what of your own memories? Especially the hard ones. The literal and metaphorical ‘train wrecks’ you might carry within you somewhere.