The river analogy

When I coach clients I sometimes ask them to imagine life like a river. I ask them to imagine the velocity of the water, whether it twists and turns, whether there are waterfalls or rapids. I ask them to describe the weather, the colour of the sky. I ask clients to picture the landscape on the banks of the river, to imagine whether there are trees or jungle, or villages or fisher-people. And I ask them to imagine where they are in this image, whether they’re on a vessel, or on the banks of the river holding back from being on their own journey.

My incredible clients visualise the most amazing landscapes, really feeling what it is like to be on their river, or on the bank waiting to jump in, or navigating a steep waterfall. It takes courage to step into this visualisation, because to acknowledge that you are waiting on the banks of the river, feeling anxious, nervous and uncertain about diving in is to acknowledge that there are areas in life that you are afraid to step into.

And we all have such areas of life. Recently, I have realised an area of life that I am nervous of diving into, and anxiously holding on to the safety of the shore to avoid, is in expressing my true emotions in all situations. I have a story I have been telling myself for years that I should ‘have it all together’, to be cool, calm and collected in all situations. In reality I am a deeply sensitive and emotional person. I am dipping my toe in the water with this, and have been trying to share my emotions, and as I touched upon last week, not have fully thought out answers as to why I feel as I do in each situation. I just do, and that’s ok.

So I invite you to imagine your life like a river, think about the colour of the water, whether there are birds about, a chill in the air, a calm gentle river or thrashing rapids. Draw it, paint it, free write about it and then ask yourself where you stand in relation to the river, and then ask yourself where you want to be.

I want to be driving a beautiful hand carved bamboo raft, on a river that is varied in velocity, in an environment that changes, where I don’t know what’s around the corner. And I want to be ok with that.

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