One of the benefits of counseling of any kind is naming our thoughts, our feelings, and our experiences. Life and research have taught us that calling a thing a thing might not take the situation or problem away, but it can certainly help minimize its power over us. In this time of the pandemic, I suspect all of us have had moments where our sense has been overwhelmed. Where we’ve felt pushed beyond our capacity. Where we might not even know what it is that’s happening inside of us let alone around us. If this is true for you, know that you are not alone.
As I sat with my own confusion, a visceral memory returned from training to be a lifeguard in high school. At first, I thought that had nothing to do with the current situation…but as I leaned in and listened to my body, this memory emerged.
The first night of training, the instructor sent us into the diving well to tread water–while holding a 10-pound brick over our heads! You read correctly–for two minutes, we needed to tread water and lift a 10-pound brick. I bobbed up and down–my head underwater more than over. “What the hell? I will NEVER be able to do this!” I don’t know which was worse–bobbing up and down or the relentless inner voices screaming. Those were some of the longest two minutes of my life. In the next session, the instructor sent us to the diving well for the dreaded tread. He disclosed that there was a trick–if we leaned back so that our backs and heads and shoulders were supported by the water, we could both float and tread. The weight of the water would support us. You know what? He was right. Treading with a 10-pound brick overhead was never easy, but it became do-able. Slowly our endurance increased. Learning to trust the water and allowing it to carry some of the weight made an unmanageable task one that actually developed our strength and our confidence.
What if the pandemic is like treading water with a 10-pound brick over our heads? It isn’t manageable without learning to share some of the weight. But we just might develop strength and confidence if we learn to float and tread at the same time and trust the process.
How about you? How would you describe this pandemic? What previous learning can help you learn to tread and float at the same time?
In times of stress and change, we can forget the strength, resilience, and resource we have inside. In this time of social distancing, you do not have to tread water alone. Online counseling is one way to help you learn tools to help you recall your previous stories of resilience, to develop new coping strategies, and to learn how to tread water and float at the same time. All you need to do is reach out. You do not need to lift the 10-pound brick alone.