Managing turbulence in your life

Laura Lonsdale - Psychotherapist and Counsellor

You know what it's like: you're on the plane, peace and quiet at last, sitting back with your drink in hand, just relaxing. It's quiet and peaceful, and nothing will disturb you.

Only, suddenly it's not. The plane gives a jolt and a bit of a shudder, suddenly you're in danger of spilling your drink, the PA system goes 'bong' as the 'fasten seat belts' sign comes on, and the whole plane starts juddering.

Everything has changed. The world is now different, gone in a moment from peaceful and relaxing to shaky and unpredictable. 

Then comes the pilot's voice. Calm and soothing, he explains about a little turbulence. He reassures you, it's nothing to worry about at all, it will last a few minutes, then all will be calm again. Just a normal part of flying, it happens all the time, to thousands of people all over the world. You nod, settle back again, take a sip from your drink — if a little more carefully.

Our lives can be just like that. One minute everything seems like plain sailing, and the next all is being shaken up. And when this happens, we really do need the calm assurance of someone who can help, someone who can make us realise things are not as bad as they seem, that we are not the only people in the world with these experiences.

We need someone to share our thoughts and feelings, to listen and understand. We need to know our feelings are valid, we need to know what to do with them. We need a reassuring hand to help us through. We need to know — to really know — that things pass.

You are the expert on your own experiences. This is what I tell my clients: no-one can tell you how you feel about your life, how each particular piece of turbulence makes you feel. But, sometimes you need someone to hold up a mirror for you, someone who will listen with undertanding and compassion and without judgement: a guide to allow you to see your experiences from a slightly different perspective. An expert reassuring voice that can tell you that this is simply turbulence, you are not alone in experiencing it — it will pass.

Our lives pass through stages, and some are turbulent. I see my job as helping people adjust their perspectives on these stages, on this turbulence, to help them make sense of why it is they feel or behave as they do. To validate, and to help them to adjust. To hold up that mirror and allow people to see their own qualities, their ability to be self-sufficient.

There is no right or wrong in feelings and emotions. They simply are. But we do need to understand them, to relieve the tensions and anxieties they can produce. We need to see that there will be an end to them.

It's rather like listening to the pilot’s voice: it can be reassuring to know that what you feel is allowed and normal. Sometimes our biggest critic is ourselves: it is good to release the negative voice and become the person you are meant to be. We need help managing our way through the turbulence.

Laura Lonsdale is available at Anamaya during the week, please call 0203 011 0355 to book an appointment.


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