Resist the Urge to Resist
Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Often life seems to hand us “tangled messes” when we are in a rush to be somewhere else. Under calmer circumstances, we’d possess the required patience to better deal with whatever situation is in front of us. But, when the clock is ticking, so often our reaction is to pull hard and resist what is so that we can “fix” the problem and move on to our next endeavor.
Sometimes these “problems” are situations, other times they tend to be people. Last week, my encounter was with a tangled necklace, a delicate chain containing multiple knots.
There was a choice to make. I could pick an alternative necklace or forgo wearing any necklace that day. But no, I wanted to wear that particular piece of jewelry, so I decided to detangle the mess right there. Focused on the immediate task at hand, patience was nowhere in sight.
I gingerly picked up the necklace and started to yank at it, pretty hard. I really don’t know what I was thinking. Perhaps I figured some magical intervention would release the knots if I simultaneously pulled – with equal strength – on both ends.
Ironically, it only tightened the knotted necklace, making it even more difficult to see where the chain wound upward and where it went between other links.
But I didn’t quit. This time I started “swinging” it through the air, like a lasso, hoping that centrifugal force would do the trick, but of course it didn’t. It only made the mess bigger, adding additional layers to this chain linked puzzle.
I looked at the advancing time on my watch and thought, “Why bother now?” Still, I was unable to release the need to fix this jumbled situation, so I diligently kept at it.
Finally, something caused me to pause and reconsider. It was at that moment that I remembered how this exact thing always happened when I was a little girl and stored my fine chain necklaces in a box. They constantly got tangled, and I could never conquer the interwoven chains. But my dad was a pro at this. He could “fix” anything. It made me wonder how he did it. Pausing, I asked myself what he would do, and ultimately I remembered the answer…. If we keep pulling at things in life, what we’re resisting only grasps tighter, making it more and more difficult to free the embedded knots.
If I wanted to wear this favorite necklace, I would have to try something new. Instead of relentlessly tugging at the problem, I gently placed the chain on the white shelving in my closet and began to look for where the real issue began. Being in the moment and not doing anything but observing allowed me time to become curious. This led me to ponder how I could cajole the chain to gently untwist the layers of tangles.
Instead of looking how to manage the symptoms, I searched for the root cause of the problem. Then I had another an idea. What if I took two earrings and used them to carefully separate the intermeshed chains?
I took a breath, slowed down, and attempted this plan. Within seconds, the knots softened and became more pliable. I was able to see where the problem areas were, and with patience and a gentle touch, I manipulated the metal links apart with the help of the earrings. Slowly, I separated the intertwined chains, and within minutes, the necklace hung around my neck.
By letting go of the urge to control and fix and then allow another option to appear – exactly what my dad would have done – I discovered the exact prescription to solve this dilemma.
My dad was patient. He never did anything in a prescribed textbook fashion. No, he operated in his own, unique way. And he experimented. He never accepted limitations or read directions. Yet, he observed others, keenly, I might add… and he remembered what worked for them. Then he would adapt this knowledge to the problem that he was facing and find a unique solution.
Whether it was unknotting something as minor as his little girl’s tangled necklaces or figuring out a solution to a problem at his business, he always had the answers and could determine the best course of action.
As I wore my necklace, I felt a new sense of freedom. It had nothing to do with the fact that I “won” the tangled chain contest. Nope – it was so much more than that. I remembered – something that I had forgotten – something that my father always knew. Forceful strength does not solve problems. Instead a curious mind and an “I can do it” mentality will lead to a creative solution. I had a momentary glimpse into my dad’s mind and was able to capture how he approached life and its many tangled chains. Somehow, he knew. Now I suddenly wanted to know, as well.
I miss him and his ingenious methods. He understood me and I got him. Neither of us had to explain ourselves. Instead, our love was totally unconditional.
This week consider pausing while you try to detangle the necklaces in your life. Maybe think about how another would approach the dilemma you face. Might a different way exist? Could you shift perspectives and see things from another angle? Regardless, I hope that you can resist the urge to pull and instead, stop and observe what is really occurring, then trust in another way to resolve the problem.