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  • Writer's pictureElaine Harris

Who made the rule you have to use ALL the cushions?

This morning I got involved with a task, that really I ‘shouldn’t’ have been doing because I had plenty of other things to do on my long list of ‘things to do’ – but of course, because I was avoiding one set of things I got involved in the other.

I decided to reorganise some of the rather copious amounts of random cushions in my house, especially the ones on my window seat, which seemed to serve no practical purpose apart from to ‘look good’. Now this might seem like a bit of a mundane interior-decorating task with absolutely no value, but stay with me here, there is a point to this story.

My cleaner is an expert in cushion and pillow fluffing and arranging, and I always know that she has been as all the cushions get neatly displayed and plumped up. In the ‘changing of the cushions’ I was about to destroy all that as I took cushions from up here and decided to move them down there, and cushions from down there to put up there - in the way that I wanted them.

Result – ‘up there’ looked fine, but when I came to rearrange the new collection of cushions back onto the window seat it was a disaster. No combination would work as there were random numbers and patterns and it didn’t seem to matter what I did it still looked like a mess….

Hmmmmm - I spent way longer than needed trying to find a solution with a variety of placements and combinations, and still nothing would work – I was getting annoyed and frustrated and ready to throw the whole task in and put it all back to the way it was before I had even started – what a waste of time! Hrrrrrmph!

Fed up and irritated, I stepped back from the 50th disastrous window seat cushion constellation – and found myself looking at the randomness of the arrangement in an entirely different way… I saw not just the seat that I was trying to put them on, but the area, the room, the way I was trying hide parts of the weather torn silk cushion covers, that were way past their use by date. The way I had plumped several of the cushions together because they needed more filling and if you sat on the seat you’d need more padding on your back to lean against the wall.

Suddenly it dawned on me “Who made the rule that you have to use ALL the cushions, or even that they had to ‘look’ a certain way?” I started laughing out loud – it might sound simple, but up until that point it hadn’t even occurred to me that I didn’t need to do that. That I was trying to achieve a goal, using completely unconscious and quite frankly unworkable ‘rules’, that were of totally no use whatsoever. For a good 20 minutes of my time I had continued to apply this ‘rule’ blindly with no change in the result and was still wondering why nothing new was happening apart from the fact I was getting stressed and upset – Duh!

It was like someone had flipped a switch, re-oriented my perception and a whole set of new ideas started flowing.

New result; old cushion covers binned (why was I even keeping the cushion covers that were torn and beyond repair?), thin cushions stuffed with the innards of the old, looking and feeling much better. Configuration on window seat, practical and comfortable for morning coffee drinking and evening wine supping. All cushions were actually used, but in an entirely new way and far more suitably than I could have previously imagined, looking good, and in less than 5 minutes after the initial realisation. What a difference a new perspective makes!

This story really demonstrates the systemic process – at first I was approaching the ‘issue of the cushions’ looking through the narrow lens of an unconscious set of belief systems I had no idea that I was even holding, and wondering why nothing was changing apart from the foulness of my mood.

I know I talk about this way of looking a lot in my blogs, but it wasn’t until I stepped back and started to look through that wider, more systemic lens, that took into consideration a ‘larger system’ that I was able to free myself from the old ‘story’ and allow a different way of ‘be-ing’ to emerge.

So, if you are finding yourself a little stuck in a repeating pattern, take a step back, see if you can consider the problem in the context of something that is part of a greater system of culture, family, society, environment, rather than just seeing it as something that functions as a purely independent unit. You never know, you might see something you had never seen before and in so doing allow a completely new solution to become possible.

The more we widen our lens and realise our hidden loyalties to our ‘stories’ the more we can let go and expand our capacity to live more fully and deeply in our lives, and, the easier it gets to process the system upgrades when they do come.


Oh, and one last thing; even the task itself that I ‘shouldn’t’ have been doing turned out to be useful - one of the things on my list of things to do was ‘write a blog’ – up until this morning I had no idea what to write… Magic happens when we put our intentions into the field of life and love.

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