There’s Magic in the Mess

March 29th, 2016 by Patricia Jehle Leave a reply »


Questions to help with the “MESSY MIDDLE”


Sometimes we are way too impatient with ourselves – and others – and expect to set a goal and reach it easily, in record time.


But, in any real situation, unless that goal is a one-two-three kind of thing, “life ain’t that easy, babe”. In fact, it may be that that “messy middle” is where we grow and learn about life, it is part f the who deal. After all, why would we have learned such phrases as “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” taught us as children?


Lessons learned

Maybe we are actually supposed to learn something about the process, about ourselves, about life in that middle part between the beginning and the goal. Brené Brown says that the messy middle is where the magic happens; what magic? I think the process should be called transformation. We need to think about what we want the future to be like and then plan for it, and act like it, even when we don’t see anything happening.


We are in a process of transformation

Each one of us is in process, in a movement towards where we want to go, who we want to be. We want to be there now, or even better, yesterday. But it takes time, and depending on the goal, it could take a lifetime. But each change starts with small steps, like spending fifteen minutes a day planning for your future, for your change and choosing something to work on- then, that day, that week. It means putting aside the tyranny of the urgent for the time being and focusing on the really important future goals, and spending time on reaching them.


Take your time

We also need to spend time focusing on ourselves as worthwhile human beings, focusing on our thoughts, feelings, actions. We need to find a way to integrate our lives and our goals, and make them whole, not compartments, but really whole. Who do I need to be to reach my goals? Do they fit my value system? What can I do for myself to help make me the person I want to be? Your action might be as simple as setting aside fifteen minutes a day for writing and reflection; it might be something completely different.


Questions, questions

What do I want my life to be like today, next year, in five years? What do I value most? Am I spending my time in a way that focuses on those values today? What do I need to change in my life, and activities to reflect my values?



Brené Brown says that this messy time where “nothing seems to have changed” is where the magic happens. Maybe this messy time is where seeds are planted that, in turn become trees and crops to feed you for the rest of your life. Maybe the time is more like a winter season where all the leaves have fallen off your tree and you think it is dead, but actually the roots have reached even deeper and the tree is stronger after a restful winter where “nothing seems” to have happened.


Whatever the metaphor, the messy middle is part of a process that is unseen, and that can be frustrating for those of us who need to “see immediate results”. The process calls for patience, with ourselves, with the situation, and with others. None of that is easy.


For further reading, you might like this:


What are you going to do today to start yourself in the direction you want to end up in?


Happy messing around!


Patricia Jehle


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