A guest post by Bobbi Emel of The Bounce Blog
Model your life on the spiral, not the stick. – Carol Orsborn
I love this little instruction. Orsborn says that in our society, we are encouraged – pressured, perhaps – to achieve success and to achieve it in a straight line of ascent – a stick. We’re not supposed to let anything get in our way; we just need to keep after it, keep moving, keep fighting . . .
The problem with this kind of approach is that we then have no flexibility and our vision becomes too narrowly focused. When the strong winds of life come along, then, we have no ability to bend with them and, because our sight is so limited, we can’t see our way to shelter.
Orsborn suggests that, instead of striving to be a stick, perhaps we should aspire to the spiral. Life is constant change and the spiral teaches us that, even as things change, they come back around again. Not in an endless circle, but in a gentle upward growth.
Being fully alive
In nature, destruction often is the requisite state that precedes new growth, like the bursting open of a pinecone in the heat of a forest fire, releasing its seeds to the soil. When you are fully alive, you are continually asked to let go of what you have in order to make space for new possibilities to come to you. – Carol Osborne
And sometimes that letting go can feel like you are moving down the spiral for a while. Because we are conditioned to believe that up is the best and only way to go, we often resist these downward slopes, holding judgment that they are “bad” or, at the very least, not what we should be doing.
But wait. Remember that to live a resilient and whole-hearted life, you must have room in your heart to allow for the downward movement along with the upward.
And sometimes you need these very lulls in your journey in order to access new growth. These are often the times when you are cocooning and allowing the old you to slough away while the new you is growing, soon to spread your wings.
Being open to new growth will soon have you moving upward on the spiral again.
How to master the art of resilience
Try these ideas:
1. Assess whether you are modeling your life after a spiral or a stick.
Do you have that feeling of being in a rat race? Do you feel pressured by yourself and others to constantly move upward? Have you treated yourself harshly in the past when a lull or downward movement happens in your life?
If your answers to these questions are “yes”, then you are using the stick model.
2. Let go in order to open yourself to new possibilities.
Perhaps you are hanging onto something so tightly that all of your energy is going toward resistance rather than growth. A job, a relationship, a belief about yourself . . . Find the area in your life that feels the tightest, the most stuck, and just let it go.
3. Allow yourself to cocoon when needed.
The act of letting go contains loss within it. And this can create the downward movement on the spiral that is so uncomfortable. Allow yourself to cocoon and heal during this time. Remember that the caterpillar creates its own cocoon and actually disappears, only to reappear after a time as a beautiful butterfly. Have the faith of the caterpillar.
4. Honor the spiral.
Enjoy the gentle upward lift of the spiral and notice that, when things come back around for you, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck. It just means you are revisiting that place, but from slightly higher ground.
5. Remember these words from Carol Orsborn.
Rather than saying that you will succeed, allowing nothing to get in your way, mastering the art of resilience requires you to do whatever it takes, understanding that many things are going to get in your way. - Carol Orsborne
Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel specializes in helping people face life’s significant challenges and regain their resiliency. In addition to seeing clients in her private practice, Bobbi is a well-regarded speaker and writer. You can find more of her writing at The Bounce Blog
Image: John Watson