Mind Matters – Venturing out in storm Eunice

I hope that Storm Eunice did not cause you or yours any harm and that you were fortunate not to suffer any damage, losses or inconvenience? For my part I did suffer some inconvenience and had to change some plans but the most impactful experience turns out to be how I found myself reflecting on my experiences and choices.

Watching the Storm Eunice coverage Friday morning reminded me of the pandemic and the lockdowns. In particular that experience of being told what to do, I thought carefully about the wording being used around the red warning and part of me, the tired and nervous part wanted someone to come on screen and tell me to stay home. Meanwhile another part of me felt frustrated and excited and I just wanted to get on with my day as planned and so that was what I decided to do.

Five minutes later walking along Chiswick High Road towards my office, with the red storm warnings from breakfast tv ringing in my ears, I had wondered whether my being out was brave or foolhardy? A question I first heard asked by my own therapist many years ago and, one that does surface at times of potential threat.

An experience of hypervigilance meant I constantly scanned for both threat and evidence. Looking up I studied the impact on trees and it made me think about the potential for falling trees and dead branches. I wondered whether the council had done a good job of maintaining the trees and I wondered whether it was realistic of me to think that even if they had then the maintenance alone was enough?

I then had the same thoughts about property, property owners and the potential for loose masonry and roof tiles. Turning my attention to street level I saw the varying levels of precaution taken by shops with the removal of signs or the taking indoors of outside furniture and thought about how everyone was involved in a carefully balanced negotiation of risk assessment and decision making.

A plane in the sky approaching Heathrow and double decker buses in service as normal both offered some reassurance when I again thought about the news coverage. So then I found myself drawn to how other people around me were responding. Looking around I wondered if there were fewer or different types of people out on the street that morning? That morning I had made an unusually early start and so not knowing what would have been ‘normal’ I could only carefully study who was out and look at their behaviour looking for clues in their movements and expressions.

With the walk safely over, my favourite meal of the day – breakfast – enjoyed without incident, I started to reflect on my experience and choices. Being a psychotherapist where I often talk with people about how they make decisions, the consequences and risks I can find myself feeling self-conscious around my own decision making.

I can feel less confident in my abilities nowadays than when I was younger but then when I look back on some of the decisions I made earlier in life I think about how more self-doubt might have been very helpful. There is one thing I can say with certainty and that is that in an ever-changing world with ever-changing circumstances and bodies and abilities we are going to get it wrong sometimes. Every situation calls on us to go through a complex process to make a new decision and we can only hope that we have the energy, focus, and information to make a good enough decision.

Sitting in safe and warm contemplation I noticed how I was thinking that I had made the right decision to continue my day as planned. Then I realised the absurdity of that because if I had not made it safely my thinking would most definitely have been different. But we are collectors of experience, constantly seeking meaning, learning, trying to flourish or at the least survive.

Of course Storm Eunice also comes during a time of pandemic and a threat of war in Europe. These other major reminders of the potential for instability, insecurity requiring us to think more about our choices and keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe and it raises the question of resilience.

Just how resilient are our societies, cultures, health systems, trees, properties and bodies and when we think that what does that do to us? Does it make you turn to others wanting expert advice or instruction or to your own experience, what do you expect from others and what do you expect from yourself? How do we know what is the right balance?

Asking myself this question brought up an answer I wasn’t expecting, I found my mind wandered to thoughts of relaxation, exercise and self-care. I realised the better question was what do you need to do to prepare and resource yourself to face all the challenges that life invariably poses?

Nicholas Rose
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach

UKCP registrant, MBACP (accred), UKRCP
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych

Nicholas Rose & Associates
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching for children, adults, couples and families.


Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the next in the series – Try strolling instead of scrolling

Read the previous one – How to talk to someone who is really struggling

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

Read a profile of Nicholas here

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