Emotional Quicksand

Have you ever felt like you were trapped in emotional quicksand? You’re moving along confidently in the world and then – wham! – your next step lands you in a quagmire of depression, anxiety, anger, discontent, loneliness, or grief. Or…maybe all of the above.

Being of the human persuasion, we have a lot of things happen to us in life, some of which are good and some of which aren’t so good. These latter events are the ones that often make us feel stuck and as though we’re sinking fast. Most of us struggle mightily to get out of the trap. It’s scary and it feels like we’re being sucked, down, down, and there is nothing we can do to get out to get out of the trap. We frantically flail and flail around, trying desperately to save ourselves, only to find that we’re getting pulled down even faster and the quicksand’s grip has become even tighter. When we are stuck in quicksand, our immediate impulse is to struggle and fight to get out.  BUT that’s exactly what we mustn’t do in quicksand—because as we put weight down on one part of our body (our foot), it goes deeper.  So the more we struggle, the deeper we sink—and the more we struggle.  Emotional_QuicksandIt’s very much a no-win situation.  With quicksand, there’s only one option for survival—to spread the weight of our body over a large surface area—lay down.  It goes against all of our instincts to lay down and really be with the quicksand, but that’s exactly what we have to do.  So it is with distress— we struggle and fight against it, but we’ve perhaps never considered just letting it be, and being with the distressing thoughts and feelings.  But if we did, we’d find that we get through it and survive and thrive far more effectively than if we’d fought and struggled.

Guess what? This is a hard thing to do because, just as our first reaction to finding our bodies sinking is to panic and thrash around to save ourselves, so our reaction is to sinking emotionally. It’s counter-intuitive and not very natural to relax and stop struggling when everything inside is yelling, “Do something!”

Truth be told, though, we are doing something when we stop struggling against our emotions. We are allowing. We are creating space for our emotions to just be rather than trying to suppress them or make them go away. We are floating with the quicksand and making the slow, steady progress we need to get to firmer ground.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 11th, 2013 at 9:42 pm and is filed under Adult living, Articles, Emotions, Life Lessons. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply