Tied Up In A Mess

Some people come to me with a very specific problem to solve.

Maybe you have something very specific and clear-cut in your life that you would like solved.

Often people who come to me know exactly what is wrong, and they know what needs to happen for it to be fixed. Sometimes they even tell me what not to do if I really want to help them.

If only they could try harder or have more willpower then the change would happen.

Then we start chatting.

About 10 minutes before the end of the session I usually find them reeling from all the other things that have come up in the discussion.

I mean, have you ever had a piece of string and found a knot in it?

Recently my 6-year-old daughter has been doing some craft work with long pieces of wool and every time she puts down the wool and picks it up, there seems to be another knot.

She does her best to pull the wool straight, and when this doesn’t work she brings it to me. She shows me this tiny knot, sometimes with a few extra loops coming out of it, and she tells me she has it straighter than it was, but it just doesn’t seem to do that last bit.

On these occasions I would look at it, and I would slowly start to unpick the tiny knot, sometimes with my fingers, but often needing a knife point to loosen the tightly pulled strands.

My daughter would stand by watching, interested at the start, and then more and more bored, wanting me to hurry up, as I tediously loosened up each strand bit by bit.

One time with a particularly intricate set of knots and loops I ended up with a huge mass of wool loops in this floppy ball, and she looked horrified and walked off, just as I started to take one of the ends and weave it in and out of the open loops, and back into a single straight strand.

As if like magic I would hand back to her a single line of wool that was very like the bit with the small knot that she gave me, and nothing at all like the big mass of wool that I had been grappling with just moments before.

We might go kite-flying this weekend if there is enough wind, and I’m thinking I should start to teach her about untangling her own knots very soon. She has smaller fingers than I do, and patience is a good skill to learn.

What are the knots in your life?

What would happen if you stopped pulling them tighter?

If you’re not sure what to do instead of continuing to keep pulling, then for single knots there is this…


For multiple knots you may need this…


-Dr Martin Russell

Leave a Reply