Counselling in Wokingham – Building a Dam

Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 –
This blog is intended to give you a flavour of how I work. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the bottom right of this page

This week I took a short break in Pembrokeshire; my first visit there, memorable for a walk along the coast path near St.Davids – astonishingly beautiful, highly recommended.

One afternoon I sat on some rocks overlooking a beach where a group of people were building a dam to block the path of a small stream. When I arrived there were three dads and about twelve children of various ages, all hard at work.

Everyone involved seemed to be completely absorbed in their task; some building up the main dam, some trying to divert the water away from it, some building castles or other structures in the dry area protected by the dam.

I was struck by the amount of fun that was being had. I imagined that the three dads had busy and stressful working lives, but here, on the beach, they were children again, able to forget about the pressures of day-to-day life and find themselves in a carefree state of mind.

Switching off is something that we all need to do, and we achieve it in different ways. Some will choose a healthy option – going to the gym or on a run, perhaps. For others, watching TV or playing computer games might do the trick. Others find themselves taking more dangerous options – resorting to alcohol or drugs, for example.

Whatever method you prefer, it is important to find a way to switch off, to find moments of peace where you, however briefly, forget about the stresses of life.

Returning to the beach, I noticed that some people would stick with one task, others would move from one sub-group to another. Some, of course, opted out altogether, notably the three mums and a few children who preferred to sit to one side and chat. And gradually, over the space of perhaps an hour, I noticed that more people were starting to opt out. They had, maybe, got bored; they just wanted a change. Or perhaps they had achieved (or given up on) the objective they were working towards – of blocking the river, or building the castle, or completing the side-stream.

It seemed that, for all the fun that people were having, it had a limited appeal. And so, in thinking about how we switch off, it may be important to take a step back now and again and think about what we are doing and why. Does going for a run still give me the benefits it used to or is it becoming hard work? Am I getting bored with watching TV, is it just a habit? Should I look for something more active to fill my time? Drinking helps me turn off, but am I drinking too much? If I give up or cut down, what will I do instead?

Most of us are, I think, creatures who like routine. It is natural, if something works for us, to do it again. But routine can become habit, and sometimes we can carry on doing the same things long after they are useful.

One man on the beach was the chief dam-builder. He was completely absorbed in his task, constantly blocking holes and improving the quality of the dam. He was unaware of others drifting away to other activities until the dam burst at one point. When he looked around for help, nobody was there; they had moved on. It’s important to have fun – but also important to think about the bigger picture.

About Paul Cockayne

Counsellor, musician, iPhone developer, games-player, cheese-lover....
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