Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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I meet all sorts of different people through my counselling, with all sorts of different professions, but nevertheless it came as a surprise when I came across a lion tamer this week.
It got me thinking about the roles we adopt: at work, with friends, with family and with our partners.
There are times when we can feel like a juggler, for example. Nowadays, more than ever, many people seem to lead very busy lives, working long hours alongside our other duties, perhaps as a mum or dad. We may also have a role as a son or daughter to care for our parents as they get older. Many people nowadays have ex-partners and children from more than one relationship. All this, and we are trying to maintain a relationship with our current partner as well. If you are someone who likes to keep people happy, you will be faced with an almost impossible juggling act to perform.
Or maybe you are more of a clown? Life is full of stressful situations, and it can be great to inject humour into the proceedings, whether at work, at home or socially. Everybody loves a clown, of course – as long as they’re funny. But there’s nothing quite as tragic as a clown who isn’t funny. When humour goes wrong it can feel completely inappropriate or be very hurtful – humour is a two-edged sword.
Sometimes you might feel like a funambulist – a wonderful alternative word for a tightrope walker. One wrong step and you fall. If you are unlucky enough to suffer workplace bullying – or if, for example, you are in an abusive relationship, you will be all too familiar with the terror of feeling that one wrong word, one mistake, one thing forgotten can lead to a horrendous reaction. You can find yourself attacked, verbally or sometimes physically, for no good reason, and so every step you take needs to be exactly right. But there’s nobody more likely to fall than a nervous funambulist.
And what of the lion-tamer? Sadly, she wasn’t a real lion-tamer, but she said she felt like one. Her partner was a very emotional character, with an unhappy upbringing that seemed to bring him continual difficulties in his adult life. My client felt that she was living with a wild animal, partially tamed, but always liable to react emotionally – sometimes with anger, sometimes by failing into depression if provoked. Her role seemed to be to go into the cage and pacify the beast, soothing it, comforting it, helping it to control its carnivorous instincts. It was an exhausting role, but one that, she felt, she could never fully step out of.
Who are you? Juggler, clown, tightrope walker, lion-tamer? Or maybe you are an acrobat, or a fire-eater? Or perhaps you are one of those circus people who have no particular speciality – you perform in a number of acts in a supporting role, essential but unrecognised, expected to look glamorous, and always to be in the right place at the right time.