How long does it take to untangle a tangle?

How long does it take to untangle a tangle?
August 30, 2017 Ann Weiser Cornell
Get free from what's holding you back

Focusing Tip #574 – “Even though I get hopeless and impatient I do enjoy being compassionate with myself.”

Ellen writes:

How long does it take to untangle a tangle? As I write this I remember what I am saying to myself a lot these days: “I can be the way I am for as long as I need to be!!!”

So I know there cannot be a day, time, or month answer to my question. Even though I get hopeless and impatient I do enjoy being compassionate toward myself!

Dear Ellen:

That’s so good, that you enjoy being compassionate toward yourself! Compassion and curiosity are big keys, aren’t they?

The question “how long does it take?” doesn’t really have an answer. As you already know!

But I can give you some tips that are likely to make it take less long…

  1. There is a part of us that will not consider us “untangled” until we are 100% perfect. But actually, there are many small shifts and forward movements along the way. Like… at least this time you noticed sooner! So celebrate those small steps and give your body a chance to feel good about them.
  2. Using Presence language always helps.  So… “I am sensing something in me that gets hopeless and impatient.” When you speak of it that way, it is easier to turn toward it and get to know it better. Leading, ultimately, to change.
  3. You are using that great phrase from my friend Barbara McGavin, “You can be the way you are as long as you need to be.” But you aren’t quite using it the way we’d recommend. We’d use it toward any part of you that you’ve discovered is entangled in your tangle. Maybe a part of you that keeps reaching for dessert when you swore you wouldn’t do that today?

What happens when you say to a part of you that it can be the way it is for as long as it needs to be, is that you get stronger. Your ability to be the strong, compassionate, curious Self is enhanced. And that leads ultimately to the fastest change we can expect… even if we don’t know when!


  1. Elisabeth 7 years ago

    I got a problem like Ellens.
    Every time I have to do something, that doesn`t please me immediately, something in me is reluctant to do it and feels too leached and faint to do anything, that does`t feel good at once and includes a promptly reward. And it seems to me, that this something does`t become less important. Every new challenge in my life is accompanied by this and something else is so tired of this.
    Till now I hadn`t try to give it it`s own time. Maybe I identified too much with the part, that had enough of feeling blocked and powerless.

  2. Author
    Ann 7 years ago

    Hi Elisabeth – Thanks for responding! You’ve located a key part of you. The next step will be to make a relationship with it that is one of compassion and curiosity. If you want to know more about how to do that, I recommend my book PRESENCE.

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