Autumn is one of my favorite seasons; I always associate it with magnificent foliage.  As a therapist, it also occurs to me that as the bright green leaves of Spring and Summer turn to brilliant shades of magenta, orange, and lemon yellow and inevitably fall to the ground, Mother Nature offers us a valuable life lesson. It may seem paradoxical, but the seasons remind us that life can be consistent and predictable- Summer always turns to Fall-as well as ever changing- dewy green leaves eventually change color, then turn brittle and crunch underfoot.

Predictability and consistency help us to feel safe in the world. It enhances our sense of power and control. Knowing what’s going to happen and when it will occur gives us the opportunity to anticipate and prepare. The more prepared we are, the less anxious we feel. We know that Fall will always follow Summer and we can plan accordingly. Whether we are conscious of it or not, the cyclical rhythms of nature bring us comfort. And all of us, to varying degrees, need to feel a sense of consistency in our lives. We are, after all, creatures of habit. We need to have people in our lives who we can rely on and depend upon. We benefit from predictable schedules so our lives have a sense of order and purpose. When we travel to or visit certain places or events, we need to believe we will be inherently safe.

The more we embrace the reality that life is a dance between predictable and unpredictable the more we open ourselves to the potential for growth and change…

But we also know full well that many things occur in life that are not predictable. These are the events and circumstances that catch us off guard, creating feelings of anxiety, helplessness, fear, frustration, disappointment, disempowerment, or anger. When our plans don’t play out the way we intended, we can feel as if the rug has been pulled out from under us. Those are the times when we all benefit from additional comfort, reassurance, and reconnection to the people and situations that are predictable and safe. We also need to trust that in times of unpredictability we can harness both internal and external resources that enhance resiliency and creativity. Although no one should ever have to endure a traumatic event in order to “grow,” we know that change is inevitable and with it can come growth, newfound strength, new connections, opportunities, healthy risk-taking, and adventures. The more we embrace the reality that life is a dance between predictable and unpredictable the more we open ourselves to the potential for growth and change and actually reduce our sense of anxiety and helplessness.

One thought on "The Message of Fall"

  1. Wendy Tuck says:

    #metoo is usually a lot more destructive than “when plans don’t go our way” or we “feel the rug has been pulled out from under us”. A “dance between what is predictable and unpredictable”? That hardly describes what sexual assault it. I don’t mean to be angry, but I am… people who equate change and unpredictability with the internal annhilation of self that occurs in a rape, or use terms like the rug being pulled out from under them… when do you have any idea what it’s like to have the entire foundation of everything you have believed about God, life, others, justice, fairness, demolished and you have absolutely nothing to stand on or depend on? I know you are right about finding external support, but your language… being sexually assaulted is far far different than not having plans go our way. Perhaps you can have a little “distress” go with these kinds of images- the title of the article said something about making room for #metoo clients, and I would say don’t you dare trivialize our experiences with such inadequate words. You’re a good writer, and if you were dealing with flunking a test or not getting a job, or even breaking up with a boyfriend, your words are very nice and helpful. But #metoo is about land mines and explosives inside our minds and hearts and bodies. We need encouragement and support with bigger muscles and analogies.

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