(If you’re new to Monkeytraps, Steve is a therapist who specializes in control issues, and Bert is his control-addicted inner monkey.
Hurricane Irene swept through here the other day, reminding me of a conversation I’ve had with many clients over many years.
“Let’s say you’re a tree, and a hurricane is coming,” I say. “ Which would you rather be, an oak or a birch?”
I sit back and watch them do a mental comparison:
“Oak,” they usually say.
Then I remind them what can happen to a rigid oak in a high wind:
All this tree-talk is metaphorical, of course. We’re really talking about people and their view of control.
Oak-people see control as necessary to their sense of security.
They have a picture in their minds of How Things Should Be. Deviations from that picture make them uncomfortable. This leaves them uncomfortable much of the time.
It also leaves them rigid and unbending, resistant to change, and likely to confuse strength with inflexibility.
Birch-people recognize control as essential in some situations and a dangerous illusion in others.
They’ve learned to learn to recognize their own preferences as just that — preferences — and less insistent on getting life to meet their expectations.
This makes them more elastic, more able to accept change and weather adversity. When life blows them over they bounce back up. They go with the blow.
Me, I’m a 61-year-old oak, trying to become a birch.
It’s not easy work, psychologically speaking. But I prefer it to being uprooted by all the stuff I cannot control.
Which kind of tree are you?
And which kind of tree would you like to be?