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I recently found my favorite gold dangley necklace and hoop earrings impossibly tangled together in a big unruly knot. After several hasty and unsuccessful attempts to free them from their bondage, I was desperate. So I tried a different approach.

Instead of pulling at the chains of the necklace as they gripped ever tighter around the closed hooped earrings, I slowed down and took a deep breath. I turned on more lights (inside and out) and drew on a slower, more patient energy within.

Unrushed, I approached with an attitude of curiosity instead of just an attempt to solve the problem. I held all three together in my calm open hands and just let them be the tangled mess as I observed.

Rather than go after the big knot in the middle, I took baby steps with the side strands. Tiny moves each brought a bit of relief.  Without forcing, one twist would unwind, and another would let go. I’d pause, take another breath, and investigate.

“What is the right next step?” I asked myself over and over again until…

Finally, the last strand released and there was freedom 💜.

I’ve discovered that when I approach problems by quickly going straight for the solution, picking the biggest knot and trying to force it to loosen, it just holds on tighter.

Instead, if I can gently hold the challenge and allow the emotions it brings to just be there, something shifts. Rather than speeding up to make it go away, or getting busier to distract myself, I slow down and feel all the messy feelings.

I ask: Where am I physically experiencing the emotion in my body? Is it hot? Cold? Tight? Is there a color I see, or a message I hear?

As I breathe, allow and investigate with compassionate curiosity (and without force) the tangle of emotions will magically shift, and I feel freer.

Distracting myself, looking on the bright side, or getting really busy are strategies that only help temporarily if at all. Numbing out with food, drugs, Netflix or social media may feel OK in the moment but won’t bring lasting peace either.

Just like gently holding a tangled necklace under the light… I know that giving myself this curious, patient, loving attention, is my path to genuine lasting freedom.