Who doesn’t love a good movie? My family and I recently watched “Knives Out”, a good ol’ fashioned “who dunnit” that keeps you guessing to the end.
“Knives Out” has all the elements of a great story. Drama. Mystery. Intrigue. Struggle. Villains. Twists. Humour. Surprise and of course, a fitting ending.
You’re kept on your toes throughout as Detective Blanc works his way through all the possible suspects to find out who murdered Harlan Thrombey, the wealthy novelist. All along there are little titbits to dupe you into thinking you’ve figured it out but then … wham, something else crops up and it’s back to the drawing board.
In most great stories, there is a struggle of some sort. The main character faces what looks like impossible odds. The prince must first slay the dragon and beat his way through a thorn forest before he can even think about rescuing the princess from the tower.
This is why we keep watching. We’re drawn to tales of rising above and overcoming. If the same scene kept playing over and over again, cinemas would be empty and Netflix would be out of business!
When my children were younger, we used to watch their favourite Disney movies … on repeat. It is no coincidence that we can all practically recite the script from films like the “Lion King” and “Beauty and the Beast”!
But although there’s a sort of “comfy slipper” feel to repetition, it doesn’t win any prizes for interest or excitement. I confess that I watched “Knives Out” twice but a third time would be pushing it.
Though our instincts guide us well when it comes to entertainment, we’re not always as good at writing the story of our lives. Sometimes when we face a struggle, we get stuck instead of prevailing. The same scene plays over and over and we don’t move the story on.
So, what is it that causes us to keep marking time rather than overcoming? I think the challenges can feel so overwhelming at times that we get caught in a cycle of exhaustion just trying to stay afloat. Other times, we try to move forwards but the obstacles in our path look too big to be pushed aside. So we give up in defeat.
Obstacles come in many different forms. They can be fear of the unknown, concerns about other people, physical limitations, guilt, reluctance to let go of past failures or hurts, lack of skills or resources … to name a few.
And so, our story hits pause. We keep repeating the same scenario whilst hoping for a different outcome. Which as you probably know is the definition of insanity according to the great Albert Einstein.
But how do we move on to the next scene? What is the spark that will light the fuse and get our Rocketship to launch?
It is human nature to avoid pain. Perhaps that is why we so admire those who can push through and do the hard thing. Because of this tendency, we often defer making any changes until we literally have no other choice. A crisis brings us to our knees and forces a decision.
A heart attack leads to a change in diet or exercise. A divorce leads to a re-evaluation of lifestyle choices. A pandemic causes us to reconsider our priorities.
The reality is, that we can often act when our hand is forced. Circumstances change the way we view things. What once looked impossibly hard now feels doable.
Although it seems complex, the simple truth is ... we are just making a decision. Whether that is a choice to change our own thoughts and behaviours or a quest to find outside help … it comes from an inner determination and resolve to shift something. Victor Frankl said that the one thing that can never be taken from us is our ability to choose our attitude and way.
So instead of doing life on autopilot, become an active part in your own story. And when you get stuck, ask yourself, “what next?” It will help you to move to the subsequent scene rather than having your life on pause.
If you can't envisage a way forwards, ask yourself what worked in the past. And if you still come up empty handed, then reach out and get some help.
Life is full of possibility and there are many different routes we can take. Just make sure that you follow the advice of Dr. Seuss: "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose”.
To the power of choice!
Linda will be running a 12 week group coaching program for young people & adults with a focus on understanding the impact of autism and developing strategies for managing stress and overwhelm more effectively.
The course is now open for enrolment, so if you're interested, click below to find out more.
Linda is a Speech and Language Therapist with a Masters degree in Human Communication. She works with neurodivergent people who want to develop their emotional well-being, communication & people skills. You can find out more at www.autismroutemap.com
This blog post is for educational purposes and should not be taken as medical or therapeutic advice. If you need medical or therapeutic support, please consult your medical practitioner or therapist.