As I write this the snow has gone, along with its harsh frost, and today is replaced by dull, oppressive rain and I find my mind wandering to how we, as human beings, can be more accepting of the weather, the days and, indeed, the life we are given.
External influences like the media, in my opinion, do not help with their habit of ‘personalisation’ of a natural phenomenon - blaming the ‘beast from the east’ to then focus on the ‘pest from the west!' Then, of course, comes the usual complaint of "not enough information." If we put all of that to one side, it can still, sometimes, appear that we do not always manage our response to situations as well as we might, or at least in a way which is more helpful to our overall wellbeing.
I heard a comment yesterday which chimed with this theme. The individual was talking about a previous generation with a different attitude, perhaps one which said, in effect, "ok, well this is life and that’s that."
A generation which added, what is more, "…but that doesn’t mean I do not have a responsibility to make the best of it that I can."
It struck me that this combination of attitudes allows the best of both worlds. Acceptance of the perceived reality and a personal responsibility still to achieve. Some may call this stoicism a definition of which is: ‘The endurance of pain or hardship without display of feelings and without complaint’.
Therapist tend to work daily with people for whom being stoic is not helpful. They have learnt, one way or another, that they must continue to exist without showing or sharing emotion or protesting in any way. The internalising of, often, significant life events can lead to people being unable to cope with their day to day existence and the pressures therein. After sometimes, many years of struggling they eventually recognise that all is not well and seek support from one place or another.
And so they should and society needs to do all it can to support them and anyone else who may be suffering in the same way.
This said, I do think we have lost the art of managing difficult situations and understanding that there is a great deal we can do without this meaning, that we are ignoring the underlying pain and hurt.
Of course this may have come about through a variety of ways. Perhaps the last 50 years and the increasing emphasis on sharing our most intimate emotions and thoughts with many has reduced our ability to self-sooth and eroded our belief that we can still affect the overall impact on ourselves of a negative situation.
We can lose ourselves in self-doubt and self-criticism and overwhelmingly notice that which is out of control and lose sight of that which is not.
Perhaps the next time something negative enters your life, rather than responding as you usually do, take just a few moments to pause and breathe and begin the process of taking care of you, yourself.
You may find that you have a greater strength than you believed previously. This could be the beginning of learning that you have that important ability to sooth yourself.
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About Sue Mcritchie
Sue McRitchie MSc., BACP Accred. has over 25 years experience of NHS, statutory, voluntary and private organisations with specialisms in addictions, systems and couples.
As practitioner and senior manager she has worked with management boards, multidisciplinary teams, supervisees and individuals/couples seeking to enhance their way of being.