Detangling

tangled hair pictureI have fine, tangle-prone hair.  It has always been this way.  One of my earliest memories is of my mother sitting me down in front of a PBS kids show with a bottle of detangler and combing out the “rats’ nest,” as she called it.

Even now, I should just know better than to wear my hair down when wearing any kind of collar.  Yesterday I ignored that wisdom-gained-through-much-experience and paid the price for it.  So this morning, after my shower, and after much conditioner, I began to work my way through the mess.  It occurred to me how similar it is to therapy, really.

It can be overwhelming to look at a head full of tangles.  It can be overwhelming to look at a life full of messes.  Yet the process is much the same.  I have found with my hair that it is best to pull a strand or two up and out of a tangle rather than forcing a comb or brush through a tangle.  The latter only results in a tremendous amount of pain, much hair-breakage, aggravation, and the temptation to either cut it all off, or go for dreads.

But handling only one or two strands at a time seems so tedious, so time-consuming, so wearisome.  Sometimes I can only stand looking at one small tangle at a time, because the entirety is too much.  Yet it is much like the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant?”  One bite at a time.  One strand at a time.  One small tangle at a time.

I really love IFS Therapy because it is about relieving the pressure on one’s interior system one little concern at a time, whatever seems most pressing at the time.  Just a small strand of organizing and straightening.  Just a bit at a time and patience.  Eventually the rats’ nest is all combed out, eventually the life mess is all smoothed out.  It just takes some time, some space, some patience, some smoothing agent like conditioner or detangler (maybe in this metaphor that is the counselor or therapist), and eventually the chaos is managed.

All better.  Whew!  What a relief!

Then from there it’s just a matter of remembering self-care, prevention in the manner of braiding, or bunning, or whatever it takes to get the hair under control and off my collar, thereby disallowing it the opportunity to turn into another mess.

What is the metaphor for self-care for your system?  What do you do to undo a mess, and keep it from happening again?