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24 May 2022

Which character are you? - monthly wellness with Roscrea's Emma Coonan

Which character are you? - monthly wellness with Roscrea's Emma Coonan

Emma Coonan is an Accredited Psychotherapist with IAHIP and ICP, Lectures in Psychotherapy, and is a qualified Adult Education Trainer

AS we reach the end of January, it is not unusual to each find ourselves at different stages of adjusting to the New Year. Some of us may have hit the ground running, full of New Year’s resolutions and renewed energy.

Others may be moving at a slower pace, finding it tougher to adjust back to work and study routines, perhaps still trying to dust off some of the festive cobwebs. News of restrictions lifting this week has added another dimension. Not unlike our varied approaches to the turn of the year, our feelings about this news may be equally mixed.

These changes will mean something unique to each of us, and it will be important to take some time to reflect on our own responses to this change. Taking this time can support us to approach this new ‘new normal’ at our own pace, as best we can, as we each begin to look forward to what lies ahead.

Which character are you?

I was reminded again this week of the story of the Hare and the Tortoise, two characters I have written about before. I was re-reading Aesop’s Fables this week and found myself again turning to this story, and considering its many interpretations.

The story revolves around two characters and their personal approaches towards arriving at the same destination. The Hare, naturally fast and determined, leaps out of the starting blocks, ready to get into the action.

The Tortoise meanwhile moves at its own pace. We later find out that the Hare, being overconfident, decides to have a nap, and ends up losing the race. Often the moral of this story is ‘slow and steady’ wins the race, a familiar mantra.

However, there is another, more subtle moral hidden within this fable; to win we must all start. It is often only by taking action, the process of beginning, that can move us forward, no matter how small or cautiously deliberate that first step is.

‘Slow and Steady’

For those Tortoises’ among us, the prospect of a return to normal after a long period of restriction might be a source of anxiety. It can be difficult to imagine being back out there, particularly if our routines have developed to accommodate limiting our interactions.

There may also be external factors influencing the routine changes regardless of our readiness, which can feel tough. Taking things at our own pace might mean continuing with some of the routines we have come to enjoy.

If there are external factors requiring us to get back out there quicker than we would like, consider making a list of the things that are changing now, and things that can wait a little longer. This can support us to find a balance.

This can also help us to manage feelings of overwhelm by reminding ourselves that although there is some change happening now, other things can stay the same.

What is critical though is that we acknowledge and recognise that no matter how cautious and deliberate, taking that first step can help us to get back into the action.

‘Steps to move forward’

For the Hares’ among us, news of fewer restrictions is likely a source of excitement and optimism. Even those who are feeling some trepidation might also be feeling a mix of excitement, yet unsure how this will impact our daily routines.

This news may be particularly welcomed by those who have struggled with limited social interactions over the last number of weeks and months.

Connecting with these long awaited feelings of hope and excitement can be an important part of our self-care routines.
Recalling our sleeping Hare, it can also be important for those eager that they too don’t burn themselves out.

Any change of routine may be an extra draw on our wellbeing resources, a draw which, if we run out of energy, could mean that we too might miss something passing us by.

After many months of disappointment and uncertainty, a chance to enjoy some good news is one to be cherished. Taking actions to move forward, whether that means big or small changes to our routine, can help us to feel like we are moving in the right direction.

A final thought...
Whether we relate to the Hare or the Tortoise, there are important and simple lessons we can learn from both. Acknowledging that everyone has their own natural pace is important, and equally so to recognise that often it is only by starting, by taking action, that we can take a step forward, to achieve what we want to achieve.

Finally, and most importantly, remembering to enjoy the journey, as best we can.

Emma Coonan is an Accredited Psychotherapist with IAHIP and ICP, Lectures in Psychotherapy, and is a qualified Adult Education Trainer. After leaving Coláiste Phobal Roscrea, Emma studied English and Media in Maynooth University, before combining her Psychotherapy training with experience in the corporate world. Emma focuses on applying Psychotherapy practices for everyday living, through developing resilience, stress response, and mindfulness practice.

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