When Rituals Become “Rut-uals”

By Julie Theeg / August 18, 2011

On a flight returning from Paris, a flight attendant gave us the “in the event of an emergency” instructions on how to attend to “the little chickens and babies” on board. (As if flying weren’t bad enough, now it’s a barnyard!) I smiled—clearly she meant “little children,” not “little chickens”—an understandable faux pas and an interesting slip of the tongue. After all, when it comes to air travel, many of us are still “a little chicken.” Regardless of the airline’s heartening array of entertainment gizmos and comfy slip-proof socks, our feet are hardly on the ground as we soar beyond our comfort levels. But air travel is just one of many venues that challenge us in our wish to be in control. Often in life, we have to give up some control in order to get where we want to go. A few jangled nerves are often the tradeoff for arriving at our destination.

Our personal and professional successes often hinge on our forging new departures from our old patterns. But getting things “off the ground” is often met with much psychic resistance. Whether it’s taking a much-wished for, far-flung journey or tackling a once-favorite sport, or extending your hand to a stranger in need: start tuning in to what needs to give in your life. Ask yourself what rituals have turned into “rutuals” and investigate some fresh life-enhancing possibilities that even scare you a bit. Try to see success as the ability to move in an unfamiliar, enlivening direction—not as winning. Along the way, expect a little emotional backlash and allow yourself to stumble because that’s just part of learning.

And finally, have a word with your own “Chicken Little” and kindly remind her that the sky is not falling. Perhaps, it’s just a new horizon dawning.

Julie Theeg
Julie Theeg

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