Updated: Aug 20, 2021
Have you ever heard of the phrase, ‘can’t see the forest for the trees?’ I think this is a
great analogy to use in order to help us better understand our emotions and the narratives of
our lives. Sometimes the bigger picture of our lives is difficult to see because of how up close
and overwhelming our emotions, thoughts, and feelings are. Our emotional trees are too tall,
so to speak, and it can be easy to feel lost and overwhelmed in the forest that is our lives. So
much so, that sometimes it feels like the best option would be to cut down all the trees and
breathe easy in the now wide-open space; to ignore our emotions or to rid ourselves of them
and our problems completely. However, what makes a forest so beautiful, diverse, and
interesting, is well, the trees.
We don’t want to cut down the trees because they are necessary for us, just like our
emotions and the narratives we create, we need them as markers of where we are and where
we have been, we need them to survive and make sense of the beautiful and unique forest. So,
what do we do when we feel as though all of the trees are looming over us, when our emotions
and narratives are keeping us stuck, and it’s difficult to see the forest and even more difficult to
see a way out? One way is postulated by Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, better known
ACT suggests that instead of trying to cut down the trees, or disconnect or rid ourselves
of our emotions, we can learn to accept that they are there, and even though they may even be
in the way sometimes, we can learn to understand how to better navigate through them. We
can acknowledge that the forest is vast, that our lives will present us with challenges and
triumphs, and the trees, how we feel about a particular moment, may feel overwhelming
sometimes, but we can mindfully choose a path to walk with less struggle.
We don’t need to stand so close to the trees, because when we do, they are all we see,
and it is difficult to identify an intentional path forward. Rather, we should take a couple steps
back, so we have some space between us and the trees, and then decide which way we want to
go. Taking a step back from our emotions, through techniques such as mindfulness, can give us
the space to see and accept them, determine what is important to us, and commit to a path
forward. This way, we can see more of the forest and all its beauty; we can see areas ahead
where we may stumble but also areas that we may want to spend time in, say a beautiful
stream, and we can see an easier, clearer path forward.
To learn more, book an appointment or a free consultation.