Okay, true confessions time. Sometimes, I like watching creation-based reality shows. Things like Top Chef or Project Runway. I know, contrary to their title, that there’s not much reality in these shows. I know that they are heavily edited to amp up the drama. I know all of this. But I love watching people make things. I think that making things is good for you, and the research would back me up on that.
But this post isn’t about my no-longer-secret vice. Anyone who has worked with me will tell you that I don’t hesitate to use popular culture to help my clients really grab my point (remember the “Princess Bride” post?). My family and friends will tell you that I am constantly making blog-related notes to help me remember those pop culture moments, and that happened recently while I was watching an episode of Project Runway. One cast member turned to another, and said:
My mother always told me, “Don’t drown in a cup of water.” — Viktor Luna
“Don’t drown in a cup of water.”
It’s a simple little statement. A simple little statement that cuts right to the heart of so much of the stress and angst that we experience. Because, there are moments in our lives that really do threaten to drown us. Oceans of grief or pain. And even though those oceans of pain do happen, a lot of what we struggle with in the moments of our daily lives is less ocean than teacup.
There are so many reasons that a cup of problems can feel big enough to drown us. Using absolute language can interfere with our ability to see other possibilities. Being tired or overwhelmed magnifies the impact of any given stress. Having limited social support can mean that we often feel as though the weight of the world is on us. Coping with the compound hassles of chronic illness can intensify the apparent size of a new problem. Physical pain increases the perceived impact of stressful events.
And so we feel as though a cupful of problems is a dangerous, possibly drown-worthy, experience. Those feelings are entirely natural. But they aren’t necessarily telling us the truth. Sometimes, even though we feel tired enough to drown, all we really need to do is step away from the cup for a moment. We need a chance to bring it back down to size.
Maybe we can try stepping away, taking a few deep breaths, getting outside for a moment, being intentionally kind to yourself, or doing a reality check about the size and scope of the problem. All of these are quick ways to make sure that we aren’t letting that cup of stress become a drowning hazard.
Are there any cups of problems that have been threatening to drown you lately? Anything that, with a little distance, might be made more manageable? Please feel free to share in the comments. And, as always, if you need help with that, just let me know.