This saying packs a lot: “Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside of you and weigh you down.” If only it were that simple. It is not easy to differentiate yourself from others especially when we feel close to or connected a person who is struggling. And yet, it is possible.
Let’s take a closer look. “Don’t let what’s happening around you get inside you and weigh you down.”
There are two aspects of this worth investigating.
1. How do I relate to what’s happening around me? We will react quite differently depending on how we relate.
For example; “The office building I’m located in is changing management and the lease is increasing.” This will certainly impact my business, income, etc. And while it will have an impact – there’s no need to let the water in. It happens. Life happens. Rent goes up. I change locations. Life happens. Another example: “A friend of mine accidentally dropped my keys down an elevator shaft.” All my keys, car keys, house keys, office keys, etc. In that moment, we both knew the keys were gone and we would be calling a locksmith to gain access to my car so we could head to our destination. But… life happens. Keys get lost. Keys fall down elevator shafts for no good reason. No ones to blame. It just happens. There’s no need to let the stormy water in my ship. I can keep sailing just fine – albeit, a little bit late (and with less money) to my next destination.
However, there are some events, some storms, some troubled waters that are a bit closer to us. Perhaps we are related to someone that is going through a tough time. Perhaps a family member is confronting an illness, a divorce, a loss of some kind. These are the waters that are much more challenging to not take in because we are related to them or relate more personally to the other ships that are taking on water. When these events are happening, it’s important to remember that the best thing we can do is offer compassion, empathy, love and care. Simply be there for the people who are struggling. Listen to them. Support them. Sit with them. Comfort them. It’s nearly impossible to do this without taking in some water – or at least it feels that way. Depending on how we relate, it will likely trigger many of our own emotions which have to be dealt with.
2. Secondly, we must consider the water itself. It is true that ships sink because they take on water. However, even ships that don’t take on water can get tossed around or capsize depending on the storm they find themselves in. In other words, we may not be sinking but we’re sure getting knocked around a lot, causing nausea, motion sickness, etc. Not sinking is great but the storms of life can cause damage and trauma in our own lives. During these times, it’s important to recall that this storm will pass. Calmer seas are coming. The sun will rise. We will not always be in the middle of a storm. The phrase “this to shall pass,” comes to mind. I say it often, especially when things seem so out of my control and there’s nothing I can do besides ride out the storm.
“Ships don’t sink because of the water around them. Ships sink because the water gets inside them.” This phrase posted on social media gave me the opportunity to reflect on the how I react to and relate to the events in my life. If I want to keep sailing, I have to remember not to take on water while also responding to those around me who are in stormy waters with compassion, care, love and kindness.