You know the feeling you get when you’re down to the last few pieces of complicated jigsaw puzzle? There's this excitement and anticipation to finally see the whole complete picture. You stop to think way back to the beginning when you were sorting out the edges, and smile as you admire your progress. You hold the 997th piece in your hand, count the number of open spaces and compare it to the number of remaining pieces. Ugh... 999. After all that time, energy, and blurry vision from staying up too late, you're one measly piece away from perfection. You check under the puzzle box, under the table, under the chair. You shake out your clothes, cuz hey, anything’s
possible, but still no luck. This happened to me all the time when I was young. My childhood cat, Tiger, loved to bat our puzzle pieces off the table. Sometimes we would find them right away, sometimes it would take months for them to turn up, and sometimes they were lost and gone forever.
If you think about it, life is like a complicated jigsaw puzzle - so many pieces to gather and place in the just-right spot with the just-right orientation to complete the picture of ourselves. There was one time last winter when we did a dolphin and orca puzzle with groovy rainbow ribbon waves. We were down to the very last piece and it would not fit into the last open hole. Say whaaat? How could it not fit there? I looked and looked over the entire puzzle trying to figure out which piece had been forced into the wrong spot. Luckily, after several minutes I was able to find the impostor puzzle piece in the orca’s tail and replace it with the correct one. And when the impostor found its rightful place, we finally achieved puzzle perfection!
Have you ever felt like there was a piece of you missing or forced into the wrong spot? Like something that had been a perfect fit just isn't anymore? Sometimes the pieces of us morph and it can take a while to figure out what has changed. Our physical bodies manifest symptoms when our puzzle pieces aren't quite right, so listen to your body and trust your gut. If something isn't working for you, get curious and figure out which piece isn't fitting anymore. Rework it and create a “new you” puzzle.
Our brains prefer homeostasis. Even when your “normal” thoughts and behaviors are dysfunctional, your brain will set off alarms when you stray too far from what is typical for you. You may feel fear or anxiety and want go back to what is comfortable, but we aren’t really learning or growing when we’re there. Small shifts in thoughts and behaviors don’t set off as many alarms, so pick one piece of your puzzle to rework and be consistent with daily practice of this new thought or behavior. After some time this thing that took a lot of conscious effort at first becomes your new normal. Ahhh… puzzle perfection. You’re comfortable now. That is, until you discover another piece that needs attention and the process begins again. But, this is life - one big puzzle.
Now I’d love to hear about your puzzle pieces - new ones, old ones, right ones, wrong ones - how have you reworked your puzzle over time? Leave your comment below.