Drowning Prevention Techniques

Someone I care deeply about called me today for support. They’re going through some heavy emotional shit right now. I am too. This synchronicity always seems to occur in my life. I end up listening to the supportive words I say to them as if my life depends upon them. Maybe it does. Who knows. What I do know is that I end up saying what I most need to hear. I hope my words help the person who reached out to me. That should be obvious. It is after all the primary impetus for saying what I say. As mentioned, I care about the person who called. A lot. This means I put aside the weight of my own burdens to help them lift theirs. This is how I friend. How I love. How I care.

This person was feeling completely overwhelmed by a particular circumstance that currently exists in their life. They were indeed in the middle of a shitstorm but there’s no telling if it’s a storm of cataclysmic proportions or if it is (only) a sudden heavy downpour that will eventually abate. The two of us talked about three things. I have decided to share them. Just in case these words wiggle in and and lift whatever, if anything, may be trying to tank you.

This current situation happens to resemble many unpleasant things that happened to them when they were younger. It is activating old wounds. Those wounds are bleeding all over the new wound making it look worse than it is. No matter how big or small, life changing or not this new wound turns out to be, the bad blood from those old wounds will make it look even worse.

This feels frightening to them. It invites them to believe that the current situation will escalate to the worse case scenario. They find it difficult to think of the situation as anything but huge. They perceive it to be large enough to fill an olympic sized swimming pool. The truth is that it might fit into a shot glass even though it feels huge. But here’s the thing — when we try to pour the contents of a pool that large into a tiny little glass the worst that can happen is that its sheer force will drown us. The best that can happen is that it sloshes over the sides and whatever didn’t fit drains away into conduits that carry it right back to that pool. Scene. Repeat. It’s important to go through the steps needed to cut it down to size. To pour it from that pool into a smaller pool and then into a kiddie pool and so on and so on until we finally get it into a juice glass that we can pour into a shot glass. Words can help this happen. Words that we say to others and ourselves. Words that sketch out the reality of the situation for us. Words that deflate exaggerations and fears.

Finally we need one more reality check. There is always a lot more going on in our lives at any given moment than the contents of a swimming pool of fear and loathing that comes to call. We need to turn our heads and look at those things, especially the good ones. We need to see our life for what it currently is, not as the weight of all that water defines it for us. Realty is often in short supply when we become afraid. Try becoming your own emotional realtor. Don’t try to sell yourself anything without doing an in-person walkthrough. You’ll probably discover that the current situation is more of a fixer-upper than an absolute dive.

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Cinse Bonino

Cinse Bonino

Cinse, a former professor with a background in the psychology of human learning, writes nonstop, and is addicted to capturing the human experience in words.