Much anxiety is caused when we are surprised at what should not surprise us.
Someone who is consistently rude to others is surprised when others shun him and he is alone.
Someone who is always getting to work late is surprised when work says she is no longer needed.
Someone who always has the same reaction to a particular task is surprised when they have the same reaction to facing the task once more.
Humans don’t listen very well to themselves. We don’t keep a very good record of our habits, and then when we repeat them, we act surprised.
As a counsellor, I guess I am in a privileged position. I get a chance to listen carefully to many people, and to consider very carefully how their lives are constructed. I have the privilege to witness countless cycles, in which, much of the time, humans are surprised when the same anxiety, the same thoughts, the same fallings-down, come back.
Then again, you don’t need to be a therapist to watch others repeat themselves. Just watch any of your friends or colleagues. Listen to them carefully, and you will hear how often they repeat the same language about themselves. As we grow older, we tend to repeat the same stories, in the same language. This can equip us well for a narrow range of activity. However, when we face a change, our old habits, our old stories, can hold us back.
Today, listen carefully to the stories of others around you. Watch them in their cyclical existence, repeating the same words, phrases and actions.
If you can, consider how change happens. Is it not when we start to see our own patterns, and start to intervene sympathetically?
It is not all doom and gloom. I believe we are not all trapped for ever. I think there are ways out of our life-traps. Sometimes we just have to take the time to see them.
Learn new languages. Seek new habits. It will ensure you stay flexible, and that your life flows with the changes, rolls with the waves.
We often get surprised by life, when really by now we should see the same things return and return.
If we only knew it, we repeat ourselves in apparently endless cycles of habitual behaviour, and then justify it with our usual stagnant language.
But if we watch and listen carefully, the patterns can become evident to us. Life will cease to shock us, and we can gain greater flexibility.