My client* is sobbing. She’s had a tough couple of weeks, with sick kids, a demanding boss, a husband who is in his second month of unemployment, and an elderly mother needing more care. She reaches for the Kleenex.
“Overwhelming, huh?” I ask. She nods her head and wipes her eyes. “What keeps you grounded during these stressful times?” I ask.
She looks up at me. “I just keep going and try to do it all. But it’s so much! My kids are clingy, my husband is mopey, and my mom’s so needy. Plus my job…”
“What keeps you grounded?” I repeat. She shakes her head.
I try a different tack. “You need a lot of strength to shoulder all of your burdens, yes? What gives you that strength?” I say.
“Sheer necessity,” she replies. “If I don’t manage, then it will be sheer chaos – and then I really won’t be able to cope.”
I note “sheer necessity” down on a piece of paper. “What else gives you strength?” I ask. “What comes in so that you are able to keep going?”
She ponders this. “Well, I drink a lot of coffee. Oh, and I love Ben and Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream. I will eat half a pint a night if I have it around.” I jot down “coffee and ice cream.”
“So, sheer necessity, coffee, and Ben and Jerry’s. What else keeps you going? Or, to put it another way, imagine you’re a tree. What keeps you rooted to the ground so that you don’t topple over with the weight and stress of it all?”
“Oh! I’ve never thought of it that way! Let’s see… my girlfriend is definitely a root. If I couldn’t talk to her, there’s no way I would be upright. And really, my husband, even though I bitch and moan about him, is another pretty large root. And my kids, despite the stresses.”
We work together to identify her roots that keep her grounded. We spend some time identifying her tap root. She decides that it is her time to herself that keeps her most centered and grounded. “When I have time to myself,” she explains, “I can read, I can chill, I can do whatever I want. I have no one to answer to and no one to tend to, except myself. But,” she continues ruefully, “that time does not really exist these days.”
We end the session with her making a commitment to nurture her roots in specific ways. She will prioritize alone time by enlisting her husband for support. She will be be more intentional about connecting with her husband. She will also be mindful of her roots during stressful times, remembering that they do exist and they do give her support.
I invite you to reflect on your own roots over the next few days or weeks. To help you, consider these questions: What gives you strength? What gives you joy? When do you feel most yourself? When do you feel most peace? See if you can identify the roots that keep you grounded. What keeps you standing upright in a world that is often chaotic and stressful? And, what can you do today, tomorrow, this week, to nurture your roots?
Feel your roots. Name your roots. Develop your roots. Nurture your roots. You will stand taller and be stronger in a world that seems to demand more of us all the time.
*client details changed to protect confidentiality