Autumn is my favorite season. Yes, it’s a season in which the beautiful elements in nature begin to wither and die, but somehow there’s beauty in it. Autumn transitions to dark and cold Winter, which transitions to rebirth in Spring and abundance in Summer. All four seasons remind me of faithful and predictable patterns. We all have patterns and rituals, those little idiosyncrasies that make us who we are. Some are cute and quirky, others are deep and dark and unhelpful to us. They are both equally important, and equally hard to balance. It can be quite terrifying to dismantle some of the patterns and beliefs we have about ourselves, specifically the belief patterns that serve to shame, defend, or avoid. Like gourmet coffee, each of us is a refined, unique blend of history, biochemistry, and experience. And the ways in which we manage and make attempts to control the frequency and intensity of pain in our lives depends on all of the aforementioned factors. The avoidance of pain is a crucial element in our continued reliance on patterns. Pain is a chameleon and can manifest in a host of ways, including hopelessness, inadequacy, guilt, and anger. An army of very evolved defenses have been created in our bodies and our minds in a never ending quest to protect ourselves from our pain points. And even if our defensive patterns are harmful or maladaptive to us or our relationships, they can feel comfortable and familiar. Therefore, we tend to choose our defensive patterns over the greater evils which are pain or change (because change can be very painful). Carl Jung said “your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside awakes.” So just as the changes in the Autumn air eventually lead to Spring, more often than not, changing our patterns – perhaps allowing them to fall off our branches like beautiful leaves that don’t serve us anymore – can prepare us for a renewal and abundance at some point in the future.
Mariah Ely, LCSW