Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – email@example.com
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On Sunday, I was travelling home from a family gathering in the Midlands, driving down the M40. Unfortunately there had been an accident up ahead and I was diverted off the motorway. Following diversion signs, I found myself moving very slowly through Banbury in a long stream of traffic. Half an hour or so later, I found myself back at the same motorway junction that I started from, with the motorway still closed and my patience somewhat frayed.
I don’t quite know what had happened – I suspect that the motorway had only just been closed and that the diversion signs hadn’t all been put out, so that the traffic followed some old diversion signs. But whatever the reason, there I was, back where I’d started.
We go round in circles, not just on motorways, but in other aspects of our lives. Patterns repeat, and often this is because we choose to repeat them. If our last holiday was great, for example, we are likely to try to repeat it. We know what gives us pleasure and we try to do more of it. We follow routines, at work, at home and socially, because we know they are good for us and because they are safe. We like to go round in circles. Nice circles, anyway.
But some circles are not so nice. Addicts find themselves going round in a destructive circle, and in depression too, the patterns that repeat are not happy or healthy ones. And how many couples have I counselled who find themselves having the same arguments over and over again?
When I found myself back at the closed motorway junction I took a different exit from the roundabout. I know what would happen if I went towards Banbury so I tried something different – and with the aid of my satnav I found my way home.
Unfortunately, life is not as easy to navigate as the country lanes of Oxfordshire (with a satnav) and breaking out of undesirable circles can be very difficult. Satnavs of sorts are available, I suppose. Friends and relatives will advise – and there are hundreds of self-help books and internet resources available. These things can be useful, but do not provide magic answers. The advice we might get may have worked for other people, but it may not work for us. Counselling, on the other hand, will tend to help you to find your own answers – perhaps a more challenging approach but one that is ultimately much more likely to be successful.
Escaping from circles can be much more difficult if there are other people involved. If my car had had two steering wheels and my co-driver had insisted on heading through Banbury for a second time, I would have found it much more difficult to take a different turning. And typically, for couples who find themselves caught in vicious circles, it is not enough for one of them to do something different – both of the couple need to change in some way to change the pattern.
Assuming that both of you can recognise the need for something to change, it can be really helpful to take a step outside the circle. Working with a counsellor can represent that sort of breathing-space – it can enable you to look at things from a different perspective. Rather than being caught in that diversion that goes round and round, you can explore alternative routes.
So, park the car in a lay-by, take a deep breath, and talk about what you can do differently.