Have you ever noticed a visceral reaction when you walk into a room, like a yoga studio, and find that someone else is in your usual spot? Maybe someone is in your routine chair at a conference room at work, work area in a classroom, or favorite table at a restaurant? What do you observe about your reaction?
I imagine a lot of people might have thoughts of frustration, mild annoyance, or simply being thrown off their usual routine. It’s striking how much of our lives we form natural routines and are comforted by what we already know– the familiar– to the point where we take it for granted, are not aware of it, or repeat the same things over and over without thinking. Structure, routine, and habit are often helpful and healthy ways to reduce stress, but one wonders: How do you deal with stress that comes when things don’t go as expected– where some bump in the road appears that threatens your balance?
In the yoga example, if you are used to the back row, what would happen if you allowed yourself to take up a spot in the front of the room? Away from a usual corner or comforting wall? If you usually are in the front of the room, what would happen if you moved to the center or the back?
This example highlights the ability to adapt from your usual ways and to be resilient with a curiosity for what is uncertain and unfamiliar. It strikes me as a metaphor for so much of what is challenging (in therapy and beyond)– the unfamiliar and unknown experience. Sometimes what is familiar to you may not be what is healthiest or most fulfilling, or may not cause you the most personal growth and reward that you seek. Perhaps take a moment today and allow yourself to notice when you are get discomfited by a moment of unfamiliarity, and search for an opportunity to explore what it is like to experience yourself in a new light or situation. You might discover strengths, wonder, and beauty within that you didn’t even realize already existed.
Copyright © 2014 Marlynn Wei, M.D., PLLC