Fighting the waves
I spent years stood on the beach try to stop the waves but they keep coming.
Sometimes the sea is calm, the weather’s hot but not burning, the sand is warm and the waves lap gently around my feet as I breath the salty air. Even the cronking gulls offer a serene ambiance to the tranquil roar of the ocean.
On other days I’m charging through the waves, as they crash and I splash, playing with my kids, praying the fun will never end.
Then there are the days when the sky’s clouded over, the waves keep coming, getting bigger and bigger, threatening to drag me out to sea, dash me against the rocks, and I’m desperately trying to stop them hitting the shore. I’m alone on this beach and I’m trying to fight the forces of nature on my own. It drains every ounce of energy from me to fruitlessly try to stop them. My tank is empty, the gulls are deafening the once calm pristine beach, is strewn with empty beer bottles and crisp packets.
I spent years stood on the beach try to stop the waves but they keep coming. Each new wave comes without rhyme or reason, no explanation is given, they come again, and again, as I try to fight back the impossible fight.
It took me a long time to realise I am powerless to fight against the waves. I tried to change tack and ignore them but they still kept coming. I might have used less energy in pretending they didn’t exist but that just made it more likely that I’d be pulled away by the tide.
The man fighting the waves on the beach is an ancient Buddhist parable about learning to accept our emotions. We are all human, some people face bigger waves than others but highs and lows happen to all of us. We can lose our enjoyment of the highs by fearing we will lose them or fearing the next bad wave that will come, and we can become overwhelmed by the lows when we try o fight against them or ignore them. Accepting and confronting the negatives is hard, especially if you like to think of yourself as a generally positive person like me, one who loves to help and support others.
Through being honest with myself, gifting myself the time to acknowledge, accept and process my difficult emotions I feel far more able to surf the waves, good and bad, rather than being overpowered by them.
By accepting my own highs and lows, and speaking to others about them, I’m no longer alone on the beach. My friends and family are my anchors that stop me drifting away.
I’m not immune to the lows but they happen much less often now, and I’m no longer afraid or ashamed of them.
Rumi - Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond
It’s ok to talk. It’s also ok to share. If you think this little blog post may help anyone, please don’t keep it a secret. Share it far and wide.
I’m very excited to tell you that my book is very nearly ready to publish, within it’s pages are what I believe are the secrets to finding a passion in dentistry. Of course, mental wellbeing is a big part of my own journey and it forms a significant part of the book. Life is not just a string of positivity but a series highs and lows, like the waves crashing on the beach, we must learn to accept them and embrace them as part of being human.
In writing this book, I have spoken with dozens of dental professionals who’ve been kind enough to share why they love being dentists, technicians, hygienists, coaches, but it’s important to caveat this by acknowledging that most of them have also told me they don’t always love it. There are good days and bad, challenges and achievements, embracing the whole of what we do is what will empower us to thrive.
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