A map is not the territory

The illustration below is another map. It may make more sense after you’ve taken in the map that is the ‘scenic route’, and decided what the scenic route means to you.

When you come to this next picture, consider it as another ‘detail’ from the scenic route; an example of a path that might appear in front of you, as you review it with a few pals!

It is my intention, now, to provide more detailed information about the obstacles I have mentioned on my Welcome page.

Stepping outside the Window of Tolerance

Does this illustration make any sense? Let me connect it to other illustrations – and to explore the possibility of travelling on the scenic route more confidently.

No scenic route is followed until we step outside our Window of Tolerance.

I can stand in my home, look out of my window and just admire the view. I am, more or less, in a safe place and I can just admire that view. Sadly, this is not true for some people so, for them, an important task will be to build that safe place.

However, if I step outside my next scenic route can begin. Sometimes we nip back home sharpish; other times we press on, often against the odds.

The picture, above, highlights a left turn that can lead me to ‘hyper-arousal’. An example of hyper-arousal is catastrophising; the tendency to over-react to events and find we are stopped in our tracks. Such phrases I might hear in my head might include: “it’s all too much?“, “Why did I start” or “there, I told you so. Useless“. Until that “internal dialogue” is confronted, and an antidote found, it is difficult to move on.

If I do manage to overcome that catastrophising, I face a new set of choices: do I want to head for the hills; that is, the mountain, top right, or do I take the flat road heading bottom right? No-one can help me make that choice. It’s very personal and much therapy work is devoted to identifying options, possibilities, costs and benefits. Eventually, I will decide what I want to do.

Obstacles, defeats and victories on the scenic route

Once I continue on my chosen scenic route, I am likely to meet different small defeats. Another obvious example is ‘hypo-arousal’; a time when I lose energy and motivation. Typical conversations in the head might be: “why do I bother” or “is it worth it?” I can even ‘crash out’ and faint from the effort I have made facing threats on the route.

There is another obstacle I’d like to emphasise, because it is a major stopper. This stopper is labelled Rigidity on the illustration above (bottom right).

Rigidity arises when, over many years, I develop ‘solutions’ to life problems that I am unable to give up. I cannot afford to give up such ‘solutions’; my basic security is threatened even if I just consider this possibility. Obvious examples include conforming to a specific regime (as when a member of a cult, or when one is under the control of a dominating personality). This arise simply by seeing the world as a hostile and unforgiving place.

The tricky thing here is that this view makes perfect sense. If you are a person who has been abused from early childhood, and into adulthood, it’s far too risky to offer your trust to another human being simply because it is on offer.

That’s very sad because there is a big risk in acting differently. There’s no ‘small’ safe experiment about it! No-one is going to convince me this is a sensible risk to take. A good therapist should not ask for this; they will have to earn your trust the hard way. There are some experiments you may try; here is just one example I have been offered.

Destination or another beginning?

However, let’s assume this obstacle can be confronted. The scenic route can continue until some ‘destination’ is reached. Even so, that ‘destination’ is not straightforward. We can end up in an unexpected place and that might be a pleasant surprise! There is only one terminus per person, per life.

Therefore, consider this element taken from the scenic route illustration:

It follows that you might start out aiming for a particular destination and find that it is OK to arrive somewhere else. When you reached that point, you may greet it with disappointment, amazement, surprise or gratitude. That is not something either of us can know.

You will feel it, and all I can say is value it when it feels good or, if not, step out of your Window of Tolerance (WOT) once more to seek out something else.

What is a nudge

Designing a nudge

Types of nudge

The full scenic route

Stops and starts on the scenic route

The Wizard of Oz: just one journey

An index of all pages on this website