Loosening the Knots

image: knot

Have you ever gotten a knot in some thread or yarn you were trying to work with? Or worse, in a chain necklace?

You can’t untangle it by diving in and tugging and pulling on it. That will just make the knot tighter than it already is.

It’s a delicate process.

You need to go slowly and work your fingertips into the barely-visible crevices.

It’s a process of making tiny movements. And if the knot is really tight, the movements will be so small that you’ll be convinced that what you’re doing isn’t working.

But that’s when you need to keep going. Even though you can’t see or feel the difference, the knot is loosening. Even if it’s just at the microscopic level.

Eventually, you feel that fabulous sensation of really being able to grab hold of one part of the knot. From there, it’s a cakewalk. You might have been struggling with that knot for hours, but once you reach the point of the first major shift, it only takes a few more minutes for the whole knot to be gone.

It’s the same with shifting a belief that holds you back.

We all have them. I’ve got tons – tons! – of them.

Here are some of mine:

Other people know what I need more than I do
My ideas aren’t very good so I should wait until I’ve developed them more before talking about them
I absolutely must Get It Right

Noticing the belief-knot is the first step. But once you’ve become conscious of it, you can’t force radical change.

If you’re like me and believe that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs, the step that comes after realizing the belief isn’t helpful is not to go out and make the biggest mistake you can possibly think of.

Or if you believe that other people’s projects (OPP!) need to come before yours, running out and telling everyone you come first is probably not a wise move.

Doing either of those would be the knot-equivalent of tugging on the ends and making everything tighter because all your resistance will get triggered.


The belief is there because it’s keeping you safe from some perceived danger. It doesn’t matter if the danger is real or not.

You need the safety of those tiny movements to loosen the knot gently.

(To bring in another metaphor, when you’re learning to swim, you don’t start in the deep end, right?)

If you grew up witnessing a family member fail at one or more entrepreneurial ventures, you might feel that starting your business or leaving your job is too risky.

The knot-tightening method would be to invest all your savings right away or quit your job with very little savings in the bank.

But what would the knot-loosening method look like?

A few possibilities would be to start your biz with as little up-front cash investment as possible, or to start socking away several months of savings, or to go part-time rather than quitting outright.

What’s important is that you’re taking small steps toward what you want, in ways that feel safe for you.


If you believe that failure is catastrophic, you don’t just wake up one day willing to take all sorts of risks. You need to learn that failure isn’t actually dangerous, and that you can survive it without sacrificing too much.

The way you do that is by building a body of evidence that supports your new belief.

The best evidence is when you try something and experience for yourself the fact that you survived just fine. And that goes right back to safety – it’s crucial to find ways to take steps without freaking yourself out so that you can experiment with your new belief.

Will failure still hurt, or will you still feel scared? Yes. But the amount of emotional management required before taking a risk will decrease. And the time between getting an idea and acting on it will shorten.


Some beliefs are knotted more tightly than others. They’ve been part of your reality for longer, or there’s more pain associated with them.

If you’ve got one that’s really tight, it could take a long time for it to unravel.

It might not feel as though the tiny steps you’re taking and the evidence-gathering you’re doing are making a difference, but I assure you, they are.

(Yet another metaphor: Just like a seed that’s been planted, lots of stuff happens underground before you ever see the green above the surface.)

Remind yourself why you want to shift the belief. And what you hope to achieve as a result of choosing a new belief instead.

Keep working at loosening the knot while being gentle with yourself along the way, and soon it will unravel.

Image credit: turbo.beagle

9 thoughts on “Loosening the Knots

  1. Sandi Amorim

    Oh my gosh, we are singing the same song today – just using different metaphors! Love when that happens.

    And…I can so relate to the knots, especially in a chain necklace. Usually ends up with me throwing the offending item out due to near hysteria and frustration. Not a pretty picture!

    I also use the image of the knot in visualizations with clients sometimes, because you’re so right in suggesting gentleness. Most other options simply tighten the know further!

    1. Victoria Post author

      We must be tapping into the collective unconscious – knot-loosening is in the air! How great that you use that imagery with clients, too!

  2. Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady

    This is such a great metaphor! Unraveling a knot in a necklace gives me no end of grief – partially because I am far sighted and have a hard time seeing what needs to be done and partially because I’m an impatient bugger. This also is the way I operate in my life – I like to look at the big picture and am in a hurry……so sometimes it’s the little things, those persistent nagging thoughts…..that really trip me up.

    Great post!

    1. Victoria Post author

      Thanks, Theresa!

      I think the whole “instant gratification” thing is so deeply ingrained in us as a culture (not to mention personalities that are even more prone to it *cough like mine cough*) that it makes it really hard to persist when the results can take a while to become visible.

  3. Alejandro Reyes

    This is one of the best metaphors on this topic!

    Victoria you have done a wonderful job. I can truly relate to the idea of just tugging at knots without any results. That’s why I made the resolution to work (and of course write) with a very concision mind of what I am doing it. Right now I try to remind myself of the reason I do it, what’s the real purpose of the activity.

    Awesome post! :)

    1. Victoria Post author

      Thank you, Alejandro! There are so many things that become easier when we remind ourselves of *why* we’re doing them.

  4. Sue Mitchell

    Brilliant analogy, Victoria! I know exactly what you mean about those microscopic spaces you keep poking into with the sense that it’s not doing any good…until it does! New ways of thinking take lots and lots of practice, and this metaphor is very helpful as a reminder of that.

    I use the tangled yarn metaphor to describe the creative process. A creative project is like a ball of yarn that a kitten got a hold of, and when you’re in the middle of that tangle, it can feel like you’ll never make it out.

  5. Sheila Bergquist

    You may not have written this for people with anxiety problems, but I wish they could read it. Having an anxiety disorder myself, this was a wonderful read. I love the unraveling the knot example and I especially loved your last words: Remind yourself why you want to shift the belief. And what you hope to achieve as a result of choosing a new belief instead. Keep working at loosening the knot while being gentle with yourself along the way, and soon it will unravel.
    It’s funny how far reaching someone’s words can be…you probably never thought about this in relationship to anxiety disorders!
    This really helped me today…thank you.

    1. Victoria Post author

      @Sheila – You’re right, I wasn’t thinking about this metaphor in terms of anxiety, but I can totally see how it would apply! I’m so glad it spoke to you.

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