In a way, I have to chuckle. In a way, not so much. Unraveling life’s knots can be a delicate dance between precision and frustration. Unraveling knotted and tangled shoestrings, necklaces, electrical cords, Christmas tree lights, garden hoses, dog leashes, and so much more is not my greatest skill set. With particularly messy knots, I tend to sigh and tell myself, “I’ll get back to this a little later.” But my little later often turns into an even larger contortion.
With all that is going on in our messy world right now, we can also get our bloomers in a twist over external and internal voices tying us up in knots. The knot of other people’s opinions, predictions, and advice can ball up in our life. You know, the messages that dip and loop and fray and tighten in our thoughts.
Couldn’t, Shouldn’t, Can’t
These restrictive internal conversations may sound like:
Couldn’ts “I couldn’t imagine making it much longer through this stay-at-home order. Oh, I couldn’t be brave like that. No, I couldn’t volunteer. I couldn’t handle that relationship. . . .”
Shouldn’ts “I shouldn’t worry about my finances in this COVID-19 pandemic. Oh, I shouldn’t say how I really feel. I shouldn’t be so impatient. Well, I shouldn’t really care.”
Can’ts “I can’t do this quarantine stuff anymore. Nope, I can’t switch careers. I can’t say “no” to my kids. Heavens, I can’t speak in front of others. Man, I can’t stay consistent with exercise. I can’t live without . . . .
As I write you, I feel a bunch of couldn’ts, shouldn’ts, and cant’s rumbling together to form a knotted lump in my mind. I just learned this morning that when I fell onto the street on a morning walk a few weeks ago, I broke two and possibly three bones in my right wrist. (I didn’t seek medical help right away because my wrist didn’t look swollen and didn’t immediately throb. Later I thought I was suffering through a tough case of tendonitis.)
I am right-handed. I communicate via a keyboard for a living. My right arm is in a cast from just below the elbow to my palm. Rats!
Secret to Unraveling Our Messes
My current knotted mess of concerns and fears include:
Couldn’ts “Why couldn’t I have escaped injury? I was being so careful and stepped away from all the black ice.”
Shouldn’ts “I shouldn’t express how bummed I am about my broken wrist when so many people are suffering through COVID right now.”
Can’ts “I can’t figure out a speedy way to type just yet. I hate being slowed down.
Stop the jumbled thinking madness! My friend Dr. Helen McIntosh shares a secret for identifying the stinkin’ thinkin’ and unknotting our messy internal messaging with truth. In her Messages to Myself book, Dr. Helen advises we learn to reframe our couldn’ts, shouldn’ts, cant’s, and other negative thinking. So let me reframe my examples above.
Couldn’ts I wish I could have escaped injury, but the truth is my fall was an accident. My collie girl didn’t understand that I was stepping into the street to avoid the ice. We tangled up and I fell. Dealing with this pain and recovery is not easy, but I am now on the road to recovery. Shouldn’ts I may feel like I shouldn’t share my disappointment, but the truth is breaking a bone is never fun. The truth is many are suffering through COVID and a bunch of other struggles right now. It is OK to be honest and express my own disappointment. I just don’t have to get stuck in self-pity. Can’ts I have a new learning curve to climb to adjust to this cast. The truth is, I can still type and without pain. I just typed this whole blog even though it took me longer. But look, I’m almost done!
Solving Jumbled Messes
So now about those jumbled electrical cords, Christmas tree lights, and necklaces. Patience, my friend. Patience. I’m right there with you. The truth is, we may not get them all untangled quickly, but bit by bit they will straighten out.
And maybe, we can ask for help from our family and friends who actually like solving these jumbled messes. If you’re one of them, let me know. I have some knotted necklaces just waiting for your unraveling skills.
Oh, Beth, I am so sorry about your accident! Ouch! Thought of you yesterday–4/16.
Sandra, thank you. Was there any kind of remembrance at Virgina Tech this year even with the campus being closed? We will always remember.
So sorry for your broken arm, but as always you make the most of the situation ???????? I do have a hubby that is really good at getting out knots????he is filled with patience that I don’t have????Take care and stay well????????
Thank you, Petey. With this broken wrist, I am sure learning new ways of coaching along my left hand to step up to the plate. Fred is a patient guy and I know he knows how to unravel those knots. Me? I’m learning bit by bit and how not to protest in the process. 🙂
Sorry about your wrist! Take care so it heals correctly. Yep life is a tangled mess but you can always find those who are dealing with more. I have to smile a bit as people talk about dealing with the stay at home situation – this is very similar to growing up – we didn’t go to town often, Mom and Grandma were the designated shoppers and living in the country you only saw your friends at school or church. Life was simple.
Sara, you are so right about life being simple and still enjoyable back in the day. Living in the country has sooo many benefits and life lessons about patience and priorities. I think one silver lining to COVID-19 is how it’s inviting everyone to slow down and spend more time truly connecting with others.
“I cant type one-handed.” Actually, I just did. Thanks for sharing, Beth!
Thanks, Paul, I needed the chuckle. I am actually typing with both hands, but my right one is a bit clunky. At my request, the doc left my fingers and the top joint of my thumb out of the cast. So far so good…
I love this blog–as usual! You have such a wonderful way of putting things into perspective with your awesome use of words.
May God grant you quick and perfect healing.
Carla, oh, thank you! I truly appreciate your kind words. I’m so glad my perspective and words are of benefit. I like your prayer for quick and perfect healing.
Dear Beth, Lotta and I (Lea) are praying for you. We are hoping the Lord will heal your bones quickly!!
P.S. We think you’re a fantastic writer????
Dear Lea and Lotta, thank you. Bless you! I’m all for quick bone healing too. When the stay-at-home directive is lifted, I’d love to come up and see you gals. Miss you!
LOL, I just untangled a necklace this morning. Time and patience are the key to all tangles.
So sorry to hear about your wrist 🙁
Oh, Marsha, I think I’m fairly patient in many areas of my life, but untangling necklaces pushes me to my max. Good for you in getting yours straightened out. Bravo! Maybe I need to mail you my tangled one. 🙂
As always…brilliant, insightful and so “real” for what so many are facing. Couldn’t, shouldn’t, and can’t can so easily take over my life…if I’m not careful…my “bloomers are in a twist.” Oh, I can surely “hear” you saying this my long time friend. Love you!
Angie, THANK YOU for the chuckle. You know, we’ve got a few favorite phrases memorialized over the years. “Hey, Boo Boo!” is one of your classics. 🙂 So grateful for your faithful friendship and encouragement. Love you too!