by Dr. Kendra A. O’Hora, LCMFT
A couple weeks ago in session I came up with this analogy and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.
Maybe I need a vacation or maybe I’ve been in reminiscence mode thinking about my childhood at the beach…either way, let’s dive in (pun intended).
If you vacationed at the beach growing up you’ve probably played these two games before
The first one is that silly game you play when the wave comes crashing in and you wait as long as you can before you start running from the waters edge, hoping the water won’t catch up to you.
I love watching children play this game. It’s as if the wave is dangerous and has to be out-beat. You can watch as children test their own courage to be face-to-face with the wave as it comes tumbling in. They’ll wait as long as they can and then book it.
I equate this game to our emotions. In our relationships, we’ll allow the wave of emotion to get stinkin’ close. So close that we’re on the brink of something amazing, so close that we feel like we could be swept out to sea, so close that we’re scared and anxious.
But then what do we do? We book it.
We run from the emotion, inland, as quickly as possible. We secure safety and then we slowly tread back down to the shoreline, back to the waters, testing out our emotional presence once again.
What about that second game I mentioned? This game was just as fun. This game tested our strength, our courage, our willingness, our grit, our determination, our connection, our everything.
This is the game you played when you stood on the shoreline. You firmly planted your feet right where the sand met the water. And you let the wave come in. Over time, you sunk. Your feet sunk deeper and deeper, firming your stance and firming your embrace of the ocean. You had resolve, thinking to yourself: I must stay up, I cannot fall.
This friends, is an emotional embrace.
The wave comes in, the emotion hits you, and you are there. You are present.
You notice that every wave is different. You notice that the power of the wave is always changing. You notice that your feet are stable and yet shifting all at once. You notice that the water is cool and sometimes intense.
You notice a lot and it’s beautiful because you’re not running from the wave anymore. You are there and you are brave and powerful.
A friend. A parent. A sibling. A cousin. Or maybe even the neighbor from the blanket next to you.
And now, as an adult, you know that the one person that makes this game better is your best friend, your partner.
So, why do it? Why stand in the wave of emotion with your partner when you could easily run?
When I thought up this analogy I considered how often we are more comfortable running than sinking in.
Recently a client shared that the term sinking sounds like dwelling to them. And appropriately so, I change the language to offer a better fit for this client.
But for me, “sinking in” to emotion means strengthening, digging deep, reaching the core, and being fully present when the wave comes in.
This is the type of sinking I’m inviting you to embrace. The kind where wave after wave does not match the courage and tenacity that you have to offer yourself.
Did you appreciate this analogy and the invitation toward closeness? If so, we have so much more to offer you here at Wellness & Co. We’re known for empowering relationships and challenging couples to be rock solid in their bond. We have resources for couples to kickstart their growth, heal from wounds, or strengthen their bond.
My favorite? Unstuck! Recently, someone shared this testimony of Unstuck:
Whether you’re feeling stuck in your relationship or are just wanting to take it to the next level, this will give you what you’re looking for. It serves as an uncomplicated yet comprehensive guide for couples who are, or are ready to be, true partners in life – for life. Dr. O’Hora shows how to have a deeply connected and fully conscious relationship by giving tangible tools, thought-provoking questions, and integrative exercises that will continue to serve you throughout your life together. Every single couple needs this.
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