The knot symbol is still commonly used as a sign of romantic love. When people get married, we say that they are tying the knot. This phrase likely dates back to a church tradition where a couple’s hands are tied together with a fabric as part of their wedding ceremony, just as their hands bound are together by a knot, so are they bound together in marriage. From Norse and Celtic to Hindi marriage rituals, binding husband and wife physically together is a symbolic gesture which signifies the union of two lovers. While in Norse and Celtic rituals, the hands of both lovers are bound together with a rope or dyed cloth, in Hindi weddings, the groom’s scarf is tied together with the bride’s garment.
Although the following may be apocryphal I understand that The idiom, “get knotted”, a slightly rude but inoffensive way of telling someone to go away, comes from the days when people were buried in shrouds rather than coffins. The body was wrapped in the shroud and then knotted at either end – hence the mild form of abuse – get knotted. It is also suggested that the knot here refers to the hangman’s noose ….
Then there is the phrase to, “cut the Gordian knot” meaning to solve a very challenging or daunting problem decisively. The knot referred to is that with which Gordius, king of ancient Phrygia, fastened the yoke of his wagon to a pole. Its complexity was such that it gave rise to the legend that whoever could undo it would become the ruler of Asia. When Alexander the Great passed that way en route to conquer the East he is said simply to have severed the knot with his sword. Would that be considered cheating or lateral thinking?
Knots. They really can be the best and the worst things can’t they? On the positive side, they are lovely for tying up packages and parcels, a pretty bow with curled ribbon making a gift look special and the recipient knowing that you have spent a little bit more time and care. It’s one of the things I really enjoy about wrapping a gift, but the knot has to be just right so that the knot is not too loose and in danger of coming undone or the ribbon falling away completely. A bow holding hair is a pretty adornment and easy to remove. There are umpteen ways to tie a tie, and shoelaces should always be kept firmly under control. A reef knot is very handy – ok, I admit the only official knot I know how to tie thanks to my very few days in the Girl Guides – and I have joined many strands of thread, wool or string with a reef knot over the years. Knots can be life savers if you are a climber, using the correct knot can make the difference between survival or of the worst situation becoming a reality. Some knots are beautiful, forming patterns and are the thing of friendship bracelets and macrame (I tried that once ….. don’t ask!)
However, knots are not much good if the knots you tie do not fulfill the function you require. And if a knot goes wrong, gets pulled too tight – remember school days and the occasional practice of peanutting someone’s tie – The prank that involves yanking a tie downwards so the knot tightens to the size of a peanut. Making it hard, if not impossible to undo. Have you ever tied a knot in a piece of elastic? easy to do but immeasurably difficult to undo, similar to undoing the knots in wet shoelaces. The practice of undoing knots is time consuming, frustrating and irritating but there is often a determination to get it done, to problem solve and sort it out, often friends and colleagues will offer to help and it becomes a collaborative effort.
Muscle knots can cause pain feeling tight and contracted, even when you’re trying to relax, and they’re often sensitive to the touch. Sometimes they will go on their own, but other times they need some intervention and until the knot is gone, then there is no relief!
We get knots elsewhere in life, they may be rather more metaphorical but no less binding or restricting.
Knots in our thinking can be negative, our thoughts getting tangled, going over and over things. Thoughts can take on an imperative quality making you feel that “I must do…”, “It must not happen that,” or “They really ought to….” Sometimes these imperative self statements are in conflict with each other; then you feel in a dilemma and your thinking processes start going round in circles and creates a knot these statements are often unrealistic and you to feel defeated and pessimistic about your ability to succeed. Strategies are needed to unpick those knots. What started that cycle of negative thinking?don’t give others the permission or power to tie you in mental knots and remember to be kind to yourself.
Sometimes anxiety can cause knots in our tummy, that gnawing and churned up feeling. Singularly unpleasant but it helps to remember that those same responses to anxiety that make us feel knotted and discomforted are the same that make us feel excited, that bubbling and happy feeling … it’s about changing perspective, are you nervous about an exam or excited to show what you can do? Are you anxious about an interview or excited to grasp a possible opportunity?
Identify and label the negative thoughts. Once you have observed the thought, you can identify it as an unhelpful thought and remind yourself that it is just a thought and not a fact. You are the one in control, you are the one with the power to undo those knots. If you need some help to undo them, then ask for help, some people are really good at undoing them!
But when the piece of rope was asked for help, it shook it’s head and said, “No, I’m a frayed knot.”