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Have you sprung a leak?

by Jeanne Robertson on December 06, 2018

How to Stay Afloat

What is the water that surrounds us?  How does it get in?

I’m going to risk “rocking the boat” by mixing metaphors. Please stay with me.

Two Kinds of Water:

Two kinds of water make up our external world, rather than our internal, emotional environment. We can compare these two types of water to two types of food. We can broadly divide it into healthy food and junk food. We need food; it is essential to life. It is something we let inside. Now some junk food – cake, candy, cookies are really only junk food (that which weighs us down) when we consume too much. As my husband maintains, dessert is important. If we don’t combine it with not enough healthy food, we can’t sustain a nourishing balance and it weighs us down.

So what constitutes the healthy and junk food of the world around us, the waters on which our ships float? 

  • The media is a large part of our external world. Facebook, Twitter, TV, news, movies….

   2-   People around us: family, friends, co-workers …


Two Ways for it to get in to Weigh Us Down:

A- The News – most of what is reported is Bad News; bad as in something bad has occurred: weather tragedies, shootings, political issues, war … . Important, informative - yes, much of it, but there is little that uplifts or inspires. How do we respond when we consume large quantities? Does it generate emotional distress, anger, disgust, fear? What do we do with that? How does it weigh us down?

B- Family, friends, co-workers, to name just a few of those we come in contact with on a regular basis. What is each relationship really like? Does the other person tell us their problems, but never seem to listen to us? Are they always on the receiving end and we on the giving? Are we criticized, talked down to, belittled?  Such relationships that only take and never give, weigh us down.

How to keep ourselves from being Weighed Down:

A- How much of the media world do we allow in? How much is healthy, life-affirming (good food) and how much is bad news, (junk food)? What do we watch that is life affirming, calming, fun (healthy food) to balance the “junk food” effect of too much bad news?

 How much time is spent with Media? When we spend too much time with media (junk food) that generates anger or emotional distress, it becomes hard to develop balance. We really get weighed down.

We need to become aware of and moderate:

  • How much time we spend on media of all types collectively
  • Select what we will watch or listen to: look for positive input (healthy food) to balance the negative.
  • Look for more deliberate ways to be uplifted – music is one of the best mood modifiers there is.
  • Observe how we are doing emotionally – are we angry, distressed? Are we being weighed down?
  • Modify 1, 2, and 3 above if media input continues to weigh us down.

Adjusting the media input to a good balance can improve moods and reduce anger or distress. This can help us deal more effectively with the unavoidable things that hit the water around us. It may make the difference between whether the unavoidable “rocks our boat or sinks our ship.”


B- What impact do family, friends and co-workers have on our life? What do we let in? How much of it is loving, uplifting and enjoyable? How much of it is junk food and weighs us down?

How do we really feel about these relationships? “Well, she’s family, so I should…”?

What is a healthy relationship? It is affirming, uplifting and respectful. Respect is the hallmark. Just because we love someone or they’re family doesn’t mean we can be treated poorly (fed junk food.) We do not need relationships filled with tension. We need nourishing relationships.

We need to become aware of and moderate:

  • What impact does each relationship have on us? Do we feel uplifted by it or weighed down?
  • How much time is really needed with that person and how do we deal with the junk food treatment?
  • Which relationships are uplifting, healthy, and enjoyable?
  • Plan more time with those with whom we have positive, nourishing relationships.
  • Recognize that just because someone is family, does not give them the right to be toxic junk food in our lives.
  • Learn new ways to deal more effectively with difficult people to minimize the anger and frustration they tend to generate.


For more ways to keep the junk food out and keep your ship afloat, please call, text or email me.


Jeanne Robertson, Ph. D., LPC, LMFT

Director, St. Paul’s Center for Counseling and Education


Tags: faith