Moving on or Moving in Cirlces

(April 2012, originally printed in 280 Living, Birmingham, AL)

We moved. And when I say we, I mean my office. And when I say my office, I don't mean all of us, but only some of us. And the some are those who work in our main office, which is where I work.

Moving can be fun — new environment, new surroundings, new route to work.

Moving can be not fun — unfamiliar environment, unfamiliar surroundings, unfamiliar route to work that leads to being really late for important meetings.

And the most not fun? — packing, relocating the stuff, unpacking, and placing. Ugh.

And as my stress level rises, and my back is aching, I start to question, "Why am I doing this? Why is this happening? Couldn't we just have kept it the way it was?"

Ok, track with me as I divert.

I often hear from people, "I'm just ready to move on." I find, after a little digging, that what is meant is they want to go back to the way things were, which is at that moment a vague memory of a seemingly peaceful and calm time, but above all, familiar.

Ah, familiarity. It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. Contempt is often what brings folks into my office--they are contemptuous of someone or something, and something needs to change. Yet, they yearn to return to that which ultimately brought a state of contempt. So is this moving on, or moving in circles?

As it turns out, then, moving on is really just escaping. It is a plea to “get past this,” though nothing is really resolved, nothing has changed. It is a return to a state of being where one is no longer having to tolerate what one is being given the opportunity to tolerate. One knows one has not moved on when one finds oneself saying, “Again? I thought we were passed this?”

However, real moving on requires that one fully endure the season one is in—to follow to completion the experience one wants to move on from. Yes, it would be nice for the discomfort to end, or not to have happened at all. But reality is, you are. It is here, and must be dealt with and endured.

It is akin to what nautical people experience in stormy seas. Yes, the ideal would be for the storm not to be, or to be over quickly. But when the seas are choppy, and the waves are rolling, nautical people turn into the waves, rather that trying to turn away or outrun the storm. Turning away or attempting to outrun is often what causes a boat to capsize. “Moving on” is most often a guarantee that whatever you are enduring will happen again — BECAUSE NOTHING GOT RESOLVED.

Nothing changed. You just ran in a circle and now you are just a little more tired.

Take a breath. Face your issue. Turn into the storm. Increase your tolerance for frustration. Move on only when it is over, when the concern is fully addressed, and you can move on together, in peace, in completion, and fully connected.

I know we have moved because there is nothing left at the former site. We got it all (my back can confirm this fact). We have moved on, and moved into a new location. I no longer need to revisit the old site because I got it all. We will revisit only in our memories, with gratitude and fondness.
Here is hoping the same for you.

Paul Johnson is a professionally licensed marriage and family therapist and professionally licensed counselor in the state of Alabama. Please contact LifePractical Counseling for your counseling or consultant needs. You may reach us at 205-807-6645.