We’re by the sea, a sea warm enough to swim in, float on and dabble in and it’s been teaching us lessons.
Here are some of the lessons the sea has been teaching me, practical, emotional and otherwise:
Teach your children to swim and make sure you can swim yourself
One of our group did the classic thing of going out to far on an inflatable. He was chasing fish and so not only had he gone out too far, but he then got off the inflatable to follow the fish which meant he was a long way out with no float – and this is why I have white hair!
Luckily, he’s been having swimming lesson for years and so just swam for shore. He didn’t panic, he didn’t flail, he just swum and there were strong adult swimmers who were able to swim out to meet him and even get the inflatable.
Teaching our children how to cope with life, how to swim through it is critical and we teach them best when we make sure we are constantly up dating our own life swimming skills
It could have been a much unhappier ending had he not been having those lessons for years.
Don’t let life’s stings spoil your fun
We arrived at the beach to find that one of the younger girls with us had been stung by something; they didn’t know what but the locals thought it was a jelly fish. No one saw the jelly fish, there didn’t seem to be any jelly fish, but she got stung.
And then I got into the sea and got stung too and boy did it hurt.
Neither of us suffered unduly from the stings but I noticed that I was wary of going back into the sea in case it happened again.
So I made myself get back in the sea but even then noticed that I was being hyper vigilant; looking all around me and not taking time to enjoy the sensation of swimming because I was looking for threat.
Then I rationalised and used some CBT challenging:
- I have never been stung in this sea before (or any other) so the chances of it happening again are small
- Lots of other people are in the sea looking happy so they can’t have been stung
- Even if I am stung again, it only hurts for a short while in comparison to the hours of pleasure in the sea.
So often we focus on the thing that hurt us, the thing that failed, the person who let us down, the time when it all went wrong and we fail to notice what succeeded, who supports us, when it went right and all the times we sail through life without incident or concern. We simply need to re-adjust out attention to find ease rather than fear.
- What fears are holding you back and how can you challenge them?
Turbulence can be fun
There have been some really wavy days and some of the kids and adults have felt nervous of getting into the sea because of the force of the surf as they try to get in. However, as they pushed through the initial bashing and crashing, they found that the wavy days were so much more exhilarating and exciting than the calm days.
The waves would raise us up, crash us down but they would also carry us forward, lift us high, engulf us and then free us.
So often we look for calm in our lives, we wait for when things are settled ‘before’ we do what ever we think we want to do. But life is rarely calm and if we wait for calm days to do the things we’d love to do we will never get going.
Instead we need to learn to ride the waves, to enjoy the ups and downs, to take deep gulps of air when we are up, knowing that we might go under the next minute, only to surface again.
You can’t outrun a wave
You can’t out run a wave but you can dive through it. You can face the swell head on and go head long into it and come out the other side. If you try to out swim or out run a wave it will catch you, roll you, such you under.
How often do we run from the tough stuff, the difficult conversations, the projects which scare us, the people who awe us? We use so much energy avoiding, procrastinating, postponing and apologizing; far better to face the things that scare us head on.
When we decide to dive through the wave we are in control of the timing of our dive, the depth, the direction, the length of time we stay down. When we outrun the wave, the wave is in control.
When we face things head on, we decide when to initiate that conversation, where we want to be when we make that call, we can decide on the line of our dive.
- What are you trying to run from? How can you dive through it instead?
When it’s rough on the surface, it’s often calm underneath
When you dive under a wave, when you dive down deep, there is more stillness, fewer extremes of movement, and quiet.
For me, meditation is this peace, this quiet. When life rolls me with its ups and downs, if I dive down deep into my breathe, into my body, into the moment there is stillness, a peaceful witnessing of the waves or feelings, of thoughts, of events. If you’ve never meditated you might like to try out these guided meditations.
Sea Urchins hurt – avoid them
2 of our party have accidentally trodden firstname.lastname@example.org sea urchins and it hurts as the spines stay in your skin unless you dig in with a needle and pick them out one by one.
In life there are spiky people who hurt us through what they say, how they make us feel, how they treat us. Like sea urchins, they are best avoided; there is absolutely nothing to be gained by treading on a sea urchin and there is nothing to be gained by spending time with people who spike you and nag at you and point out your faults.
- Who are the people in your life who cause you pain? How can you avoid them or spend less time with them?
The sea can heal you
So many of the kids have scrapes from football, from stones on the beach, from rough and tumble and they have all winced and wiggled as the sea went into their wounds only to find that by the end of the day they sores are feeling much better.
Just as life can cause us pain, so can it ease our pain if we let it and don’t fight against it. There are always people to support us and opportunities to move us forward if we are open to them.
Surrender and you will be held
I watched as my young son floated, eyes shut, with a smile on his face as the sea held him. I love to lie back and be supported by the water as I watch the sky.
It may not always feels like it, but life holds us too. However, in order to be held you have to surrender to what is, to relax into the moment, to stop fighting and let go. When we struggle and resist we waste our energy and fight against what life is bringing us.
Thank you Sea for the pleasure and the learning – I feel sad to leave.
Ps Free Ebooks for anyone who needs them (just click on the links)
- How to be LessStressed: From Survive and Strive to Revive and Thrive
- Getting over the End of a Relationship: Relationship Recovery
- Domestic Abuse: how to get support for people living with it
Ps..here are other places you can read my stuff
- Psychologies Magazine LifeLabs
- For teachers and schools: SecEd, Innovate Your School, SchoolWell and Staffrm