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  • steve richardson

The First Rule of Holes: Stop Digging.


I live near a beach that is a haven for dogs and their owners.


The dogs scamper and cavort in or near the sea. And generally, they appear to enjoy the earth-bound version of doggy heaven, as they retrieve balls, rocks and sticks.

I’ve also noticed a curious canine habit. (Perhaps it's not curious to their owners - but as a non-dog owner, it is peculiar to me). Anyway, the dogs often go to retrieve a ball and instead of picking it up, they decide to dig a pit next to the ball.


Their two paws, excavate sand with great endeavour and zeal. Their effort, to my human eye, appears to be without purpose and somewhat pointless. After all - the ball is in plain sight, right next to the pit.


And so, the dogs' antics got me thinking. As humans, we too can dig holes and pits for ourselves that serve no purpose, and are often quite harmful emotionally.


The word, overwhelmed, suggests being buried or drowned beneath a mass. And I work with many people who feel overwhelmed by work pressures, relationship problems, emotions, grief and well.., just life pressures. At first, most of these folk suffer from a propensity to dig themselves deeper into their woes. And it’s not that they want to or indeed, realise they are doing it.


It’s because when things are overwhelming, there appears to be no hope. And that is because, metaphorically speaking, the hole is getting deeper because the mind is working hard to solve the problem, in the worst possible way.


The mind chooses denial, solitude, withdrawal, blame, guilt and a variety of other mechanisms to encourage us to keep digging. But even enthusiastic puppies have to come up for air and look for what they love the most - their owners.

Equally, if you are overwhelmed, you have to come up for air and find that which you should love the most. Namely, you!


So if you are feeling overwhelmed, give yourself a break. Stop digging. Take a moment. Ask for a hug. Reach out and seek alternatives, solutions, support and healing. Please, do not for one moment think you are alone.

And please... please remember; the solution usually lies closer to the surface, not digging a deeper hole.


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