I hear so many people talking and getting frustrated about ‘going backwards’ or ‘getting stuck’ throughout their process of change and recovery, whether that be from eating and weight difficulties, or any other physical and psychological struggles. We even say it in general life, perhaps when we lose a job or feel trapped in a job we don’t enjoy.
What if we could liken the flow of life and change to the flow of water through a river?
Our minds prefer the man-made structure of a canal – their sides are constructed to keep water flowing smoothly in one direction, uncomplicated, clean, and straightforward, if a little uninteresting!
We are nature, and so we do not ‘fit’ the linear, uncomplicated shape and flow of a canal. Nature is wonderfully irregular, intricate and elaborate.
Brian and I (and of course the dogs) spend most of our holidays up in the Scottish Highlands. The rivers there are quite something – they meander their way along glacial valleys which have been created over millions of years. The rivers weave and bend, sometimes flowing smoothly, sometimes tumbling through and over rocks and boulders. Their course is far from smooth and linear, and yet it is beautiful to see.
Through my work, I see each person’s change process taking its own unique course. It is far from linear – twisting and bending, sometimes flowing back on itself for a little while. At times the flow is rapid and unimpeded. At other times it becomes slow and effortful as the process makes its way through stones and rock pools. And still, there is always flow. The river of change doesn’t ever get stuck or stop. It is continually flowing towards the sea.
Rivers are nature’s way of showing us that life’s twists and turns are just as they are meant to be.
When we reconnect to wellness, the flow continues. Just as the river reaches the sea and the flow becomes tidal there is still movement, so in wellbeing, we experience continued shift and change. We are nature doing what we are designed to do gloriously.
There is really no such thing as ‘going backwards’ – unless, of course, you’re Marty McFly from Back to the Future! That’s just a story our minds throw up. So there’s no need to fear the rock pools or the slow times; they are all part or nature’s grand design, all part of the perfect flow that is change and discovery.