Coping with Life: The Wet Basement
If most of you have been following the news, for the past week the New England area has been inundated with water. In our town alone we had 11″ of rain in 3 days. The rivers are 3 ft above flood level. Thus, most of the homes in the area have wet basements. This got me thinking about stress management and coping, no not with the wet basement with a metaphor about coping with life. Now, I must admit, my brain always seems to think in metaphors, which does drive my right brain engineers, CEO and other executives crazy, yet it does make sense to them eventually. My right brain patients catch on immediately. So, I hope this makes sense to you.
The basement and what the flooding is ruining is what we tend to focus on when a patient comes in for therapy. They are presenting the crisis, however if you can step back as the observer and not the doer, (I call this stepping off the stage and being in the audience) you would realize the reason the water is coming in is due to one or all of the following: a crack in the foundation, not enough grass or absorbing material around the house; lack of diverting tubing; or living too close to the body of water that continues to flood.
The foundation is how you cope and what is the breach in your method of coping, while the location of the house is another. In Plum Island, which is a seacoast town, people believed that their property was safe. However, proper protection was not done and thus due to erosion, not the quality of the foundation, caused the water to seep into the basements, if they have any. Most of their homes are on stilts.
When the basement is dry, it is hard to find the crack in the foundation or to realize that the river 4 blocks away will flood your basement. This is true in therapy; often it is hard when there aren’t any symptoms to discover what is wrong. Thus, this is why you have symptoms.
Next time you have whatever symptom you are experiencing (wet basement) instead of focusing on the symptom, try looking for the crack in the foundation (self) or is it the situation you are living in too close to the river or ocean (bad marriage, job, relationship, etc) that needs to be changed.
I have a patient who is an awesome artist, who taught me to look at the spaces and not what you see.
The wet basement and everything getting ruined, you can see. It is obvious, as is your chronic back pain. It is not what you see that you truly need to focus on and fix so that eventually you will no longer have a wet basement.