Give this RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) advertisement about surviving cold water a watch.
What really struck a chord with me here was this idea that you have to fight your instincts of panicking and swimming hard. There is more chance of survival if you simply float and let the water carry you.
As a typical English Lit student, I have the classic problem of drawing metaphors from everything. When I watched this advert, it was less about physically surviving cold water and more about mentally coping with…well, life.
We are persistently thrown into freezing water in our lives, be it where relationships are concerned, careers, illnesses or even family. Our natural instinct is to panic when these situations present themselves; we lose out on sleep as we are plagued with worry, our behaviour to others changes because we are frightened of exposing our vulnerabilities, we turn to alcohol, drugs or any other stimulants that will give us some kind of thrill in order to distract us from the true problem we’re facing – all in the name of survival.
None of these contribute to improving our emotional or mental wellbeing when in crisis yet, so many of us seem to chose them as paths and methods of coping.
As I watched this video and I saw those people flaying about and thrashing in the water, all I could think about was the way we do that exact same thing throughout our day-to-day lives. Everyone is forever fighting a battle, endlessly wrestling with that freezing cold water.
– if we stop panicking and struggling for a moment, and “just float until the cold water shock has passed,” we’re more likely to withstand the toil we are experiencing.
Now I don’t doubt that everyone reading this has had to deal with their fair share of heartache. And obviously I’m not suggesting giving up; the people who float in the water have not quit their attempt at survival. They are simply tackling it in a different way; disobeying their instincts.
My natural reaction when I’m faced with awful news or negative comments, toxic relationships or knock backs is of course to worry myself silly, panic, stress and well…lose my shit a little. However, when I take time to actually THINK and ACCEPT the situation, my irrational panic becomes manageable, and I often find myself growing through whatever challenge has presented itself, even if it is a long, dragged out, difficult road.
Life will always throw you into that freezing cold water, often when you’re least expecting it, but struggling against your conditions in a panicked frenzy will always be futile, just as swimming against a current is hopeless and spending hours upon hours fixating on a bad situation is pointless. When things are out of our control, floating is really our only choice if we want to maintain our mental and emotional wellbeing.
To fight our strife does not necessarily require us to struggle against it. Instead we must accept the hardships we are dealt and put coping mechanisms in place so that we are not overcome and drowned. It is only in situations where I’ve actually managed to eradicate my panics and fears, that I’ve felt that strange sense of peace and calm that you see on the video when those people float on the surface of the water. It’s only when we’ve reached this point that we are able to experience this strange clarity, that inner voice which assures us (despite the threatening situation or challenge) —- “You will float and you will survive.”