I love the ocean, the warm air, the sunshine, the gorgeous aqua water, and the vastness that reminds me that I am part of something bigger than myself and my worries.
However, the ocean isn’t always like this. Sometimes we arrive to grey skies or unseasonably cold weather. Sometimes there’s a tropical storm that brings in the jellyfish making a swim impossible. The surf pounds the shore and the wind and rain makes it hard to enjoy the beach. The weather we planned on is just not there. The ocean has many kinds of weather and we never know quite what we’ll get, but we want perfect conditions nonetheless.
We create expectations for our emotions in much the same way. “I want to be happy! I want to be calm! I can’t be depressed today!” We all want to feel good. But our minds are a lot like the ocean, vast, powerful, and capable of all kinds of weather. One of the hardest things to do is to be OK with not feeling good. Our instincts tell us there is something wrong when we feel bad. There’s a feeling that if we don’t act, this sadness or anxiety or whatever it may be will get the best us. But when we decide that we cannot and should not feel a certain way our problems only multiply. Not only are we sad but we also feel stressed out about feeling sad. This can make it much harder to take skillful actions to care for ourselves.
Lately I have been taking inspiration from the ocean and the acceptance that can be felt when I realize that the ocean does not exist to please me. When I sit quietly on the beach I am able to fall into a kind of deep respect for the many different things the ocean can do. I can understand that storms aren’t really bad. I can accept that this is just how the ocean is.
Our minds are just like the ocean, vast, complicated, and unpredictable. It helps to remind ourselves of this when things get tumultuous, when we feel difficult emotions. This kind of acceptance allows us to be more relaxed no matter how we feel. It reminds us that, just like weather, whatever is showing up right now will pass eventually. Over time, this kind of acceptance leads to a sense of confidence that we can better handle whatever experiences and emotions may come our way.
If you are looking for a therapist Denver area residents, call to schedule an appointment with me and I would be more than happy to talk to you.