"Weathering" is a concept that Dr. Hill recently describs as a special kind of coping strategy. This idea is worth sharing with you, so I thought I would do this week’s article on some thoughts he came up with, and my interpretation of those.
The dictionary definition of Weathering is:
Although not commonly used as a coping strategy term, Weathering has much to offer as a way to deal with a wide range of emotional stressors.
“To bear up against and come safely though (as in a storm, or danger, or trouble, etc.”
Robert’s thoughts on the concept of weathering in relation to psychological issue and therapy:
The good life, or the life worth living, is finding the ups and avoiding the downs. This is what everyone’s after, but try as we may, there’s our fair share of downs to confront. As a practicing psychotherapist, I encounter people when they’re down. With a prospective client, the conversation often starts like this:
“Doctor, I’m depressed, anxious, lost, out-of-sorts, suicidal. Been this way who knows how long. Can’t keep living like this.”
Endless variations on this theme exist, but what’s common across all is a distress call.
Boiled down to one word: despair.
Despair, according to dictionary.com is “someone or something that causes hopelessness” or “loss of hope; hopelessness.”
You’re lost at sea, how you fell overboard; I'm not entirely sure, and now you’re being swallowed up by the unknown.
“Captain,” you say. “I’ve fallen out and not entirely sure how it happened, but please haul me out of this mess!”
“Sure!” the captain says. “Here’s the line. Grab ahold and pull yourself in.”
This is how I see psychotherapy. You are lost in a storm and cry out for help. And, the psychotherapist throws you a line, and after a few hard pulls, you’re back in.
The storm, of course, continues. The help doesn’t quiet or soften the storm. The line wasn’t thrown for this purpose. It was thrown to help you get back in the boat, and out of harm’s way. You haul yourself in, with some assistance. Survival, at least for now, is assured – you’re okay for a while.
You eventually get back on track and weather it out until, as is the case for all storms, conditions calm and you keep on. This is what it means to get better. Getting better is what we all do – not solving, but “Weathering.”
My Interpretation and Thoughts
To me, what he's saying is that therapy is a process Therapy is a process. Life has its ups and downs, and you look, feel, react, and build meaning from your interactions and outcomes while you move through life.
Say, for example, you fail, get rejected, or have a situation that you sum up as bad This happens because your prior knowledge and experience has led you to apply meaning to that particular situation - that meaning can be negative depending on your outlook. It can also be seen as something positive or good.
This is your perception, it is your psychology. You can get started changing a behavior or a problematic thought, but you might lose sight of your efforts when challenges arise.
You can fall into despair and feel “lost at sea” as it is put above. It seems like no matter what you do, the outcome is the same – you end up where you are at, or worse. You feel out of control, you feel a sense of hopelessness.
For example, say you just got fired from a job. You could surmise it to being your fault, or how you did something wrong and it led to you being fired. You can also fall into a sense of hopelessness about the situation, letting the anger and depression lead you to inaction. Or, you could look at it as an opportunity to do something else, perhaps something more meaningful and purposeful to you.
This is where the therapy comes in to aid you. It is a device, a tool (in the form of a trained professional that has developed a way of seeing, thinking, listening, and responding to you) to help you manage that despair, get through that storm... until it settles.
That’s life. It isn’t always easy; it always isn’t hard. Sometimes, we need help, we need assistance. That is why therapy is a pertinent option. Why am I writing this? Because, I think this concept is interesting. Because despair is not something you want to face alone. Because in life, things can happen and make your mind feel like it is swirling this way and that, and it can lead to a sense of loss of control and hopelessness.
That’s where therapy provides help – a line to pull you in from the storm, another perspective, an assistive hand to pull you to safety, for now. That is life.
If to err is to be human, then therapy is a apt option. It can help you navigate the potentially horrendous storm of life that throws you this way and that. It can help you get back on track so you can continue onward, so you can keep moving forward, and fighting onward. That is "Weathering" in my perspective.
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Robert D. Hill PhD.
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