Saturday, August 2, 2008

Swimming Metaphor

Learn to swim.

Symptoms are waves and storms that hit us. These waves and storms may cause us to panic, to flail and struggle in the water. This causes exhaustion and can cause us to drown. It even makes us harder to rescue.

Learn to float. Let the waves come, float with them, let them go. Learn how to avoid flailing against the waves, and instead try to ride neutrally with them. Learn how to use your energy well in this type of situation.

It is like what I've read about being swept out to sea by a rip current. It will exhaust you to struggle against it. You may have to float with it a while until you have an opportunity to move laterally, all the while allowing more time for someone to help you.

In swimming you need to be willing to put your head under the water. In this position you cannot breathe, and you cannot see clearly. Yet in this position you can swim much more efficiently. There are reflexive, self-protective instincts that sometimes need to be over-ridden in order to progress.

I've always liked this metaphor but ironically I literally swim (in the water) very poorly. I need to take more lessons myself. Actually, I think one can apply this metaphor in general more easily if you literally do swim, and take swimming lessons (in real water!).

1 comment:

L said...

Dr. K,
Thanks for this blog. It is very helpful for me to see in writing some of the lessons I am trying to learn in therapy. Your blog is a concrete reminder I can return to when I need support outside an appt.

In particular, many of your metaphors speak to me...the difficulty, but importance of not panicking in the water (I am a good swimmer, but cannot seem to learn this lesson), the recognizing that one may have to go sideways, or ride out the rip tide before heading towards one's destination.

I think Western society is so focused on achievement and living a life that is forever headed upwards; financially, in school, in our chosen career path, and in our "need" to increase our possessions, and material things in life.

I am learning (albeit slowly) that a life full of meaning and purpose will be what helps me heal.

I am panicking, and I am stressed about my fall, and my difficulty moving upwards and forward, but much of me is beginning to see that I was headed in the wrong direction anyways, so I need to let it go and ride the tide.

Thanks for the reminders.