Recently, I took a trip with my family that required us to get on a few airplanes with the typical layover that challenges the ability to book it from one end of the airport to the other. We made it with time to spare. phew! One of the flights on return included a tour of the airspace for longer than anticipated. For reasons not explained by the crew, we had to circle and circle for a bit before the landing was approved. I remember thinking that this is just like life. We get in a holding pattern and circle the same situations over and over again waiting for permission to land.

How many times have you said you were going to work out, eat well, get more rest, apply for another job, ask a person out, learn a craft, or any other desire on the ever moving list of life only to stay in a pattern that is no longer serving you? You KNOW it isn’t serving you but still you stay in it. Why is that? What is it about expanding and giving it one more go that scares you?

Up, up and away!

The person in the seat next to me on the plane wanted us to just land already. I pointed out that if we did it would probably hurt a little as there must be a reason, avoiding a crash I am assuming, that the air traffic control was giving us the extended tour. I appreciated that he may have had a connecting flight or just hated flying and wanted to be on the ground, but I didn’t think lamenting about it was going to help his anxiety any. He could have powered the plane with how fast his knee was bouncing up and down! As it turned out, it was only another ten minutes before we were cleared for landing and proceeded to the gate.

A lot of the times people come in for a session and stay for coaching because I can see the pattern that is there and am tenacious enough to stay with the process until a different flight plan is chosen. This can’t be rushed in my opinion. I believe if someone is pushed too hard, they will retract and stay in the pattern they want out of but don’t know how to do it or even what the pattern is to begin with. There is definitely a place for “just do it” in life, but doing it requires a little clarity and that can be tricky when looking at it from the inside. Not impossible, just tricky. So ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I in a holding pattern anywhere in my life? Circling the same behaviors and patterns.
  • Can I ascertain why I want to stay in this pattern? (It doesn’t often make sense why we want to stay in a pattern that isn’t supporting us, but we obviously do if we keep doing it. Asking the subconscious what it is up to helps determine the why.)
  • Is me staying in the pattern benefiting another if not me?
  • Am I so afraid of the unknown that I won’t take a chance on me? (This is a bit of a trick question because you didn’t know what I would write in this blog and you read it and are ok so the unknown is an excuse if you ask me. But you didn’t, but you are reading this so in a way you did. I’m going to stop arguing with both of us now as the ending is unknown in this pattern!)
  • What one incremental step could I take that would help me give myself permission to land this plane and stop circling until I am dizzy? (Please make it so small that you can accomplish it even if you have a little trepidation.)

The holding patterns in life can have a purpose too. Sometimes more information comes in when we have a holding pattern activated. Perhaps if change was pushed, it wouldn’t benefit you. Perhaps if you insisted the plane lands, there would be a crash mid-air and that would delay you even further. Have patience with yourself and the process of life. It may only be ten minutes until the epiphany happens and you know exactly what to do.

It is all about balance. If the airplane wasn’t balanced, we wouldn’t even get off the ground. If you recognize yourself in a holding pattern, usually accompanied by excuses and ignoring the obvious, then you will want to address it. After addressing it you can decide if this is in fact happening to help you get more information or if it is a repeat of times past and you really are going loopdeloop with no exit in sight. Determining that will help you decide the next step be it making that small change, making an appointment for direction or putting your landing gear down and getting on with the exit process!

So, how are you going to pilot your flight?