Therapist's Note: We often think that getting started is the hardest part of making change, but in many ways I have witnessed and experienced that it's the messy middle that can be the most frustrating. One of the important ways I support my clients when they reach this juncture is to offer the reminder that discomfort and disorientation are not signs of failure, but in fact signs of life under construction--something new is coming.
Sunshine filtering through the trees.
Music playing on my radio.
Wheels gliding down the road.
Orange flashing lights.
A barricade with a warning attached:
Welcome to my drive to my office all summer long!
(I'm listening to the steady beat of jackhammers as I write this, by the way.)
From week to week, new road construction projects have been cropping up at nearly every intersection between my home and my work. While a few have remained steady for a period of time, most days the exact locations and nature of these pesky interruptions have been in a constant state of flux, leaving me caught off guard more often than not.
There's no poetic way to put this, it's been incredibly....annoying. I'm the sort of person who appreciates moving from point A to point B as directly and as efficiently as possible. I like my morning commute the way I like my morning coffee: straight up, with nothing unnecessary added.
When our lives are under construction, each day can hold disorienting detours that catch us off guard. The orange flashing lights. The drum of jackhammers. The barricades that stop us from taking familiar, favored paths. There's no poetic way to put this, it's incredibly...annoying.
The in between space of life-as-construction-zone can feel hazardous. We want to believe that when the dust settles we will have a smoother, more pleasant road to travel. But in the meantime, all that is evident in the present moment is the certainty that the debris is getting in our way.
So here's what I've been learning about road construction...are your ready for it?
All the detours I've had to take have helped me find new paths I never even knew existed.
When the construction crews move on to the next corner and my usual road opens back up again, I find myself contemplating a fork in the road.
Do I stick with the route I comfortably traveled before?
Or do I allow the detour to become my new normal?
In some cases I've chosen the former, but in other cases I've chosen the latter. Admittedly, even when I've gone back to my usual route, it's comforting to know another option is there for me should I need it again down the road.
What if all the detours we take while our lives are being jackhammered apart and cemented back together can become as much of a gift as the end result of our change process?
Being forced to explore new avenues for being and moving and responding brings discomfort, disorientation, and annoyance, absolutely. But it can also expose us to a new normal that we grow to prefer. At the very least, being rerouted provides us with knowledge of another option we can try again someday.
As you travel, if the rubble and the rumble of construction throws you off course, take heart. Not only is something new coming into being, even better, you are being invited to learn a new route.
(Grumble if you need to.)
This detour is only temporary.
But the pathways it will share with you are yours to keep...forever.
For Further Reflection: What is one new option you've discovered in your process of change? Do you think you'll keep taking that route once the construction crew clears or will you return to your past pathways?
Here you will find metaphors, images, reflections, and inspiration on the change process. Psychotherapy intersects with creativity, nature, and spirituality on these pages. You can start anywhere you'd like. You'll find a note on my thoughts as a therapist as well as a prompt for your own reflection at the beginning and end of each entry.
I'm a licensed therapist in private practice in Indianapolis who provides counseling to individuals and couples, particularly around issues of anxiety, adjustment, and relationship wellness.