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The one about the frog in boiling water

I thought everyone knew this story but, today, I discovered that wasn’t the case. Two of my loved ones looked at me with utterly blank faces when I called them frogs in boiling water. And, it’s a good story, so it can stand repeating.

If a frog jumps into a pot of boiling water, it’s hot, so he jumps straight back out. But if a frog jumps into a pot of cool water which is slowly but steadily heated up, even once the water reaches boiling point, he will not realise and so he stays in it. Whilst the first frog will be a bit burnt, he will recover. The second frog will die, without having any idea that the water is killing him.

I’ve always found this a very powerful metaphor for stress and our ability to recognise the level of stress we may be under. Some people see stress and side-step it. But the majority of us cannot. I am constantly amazed at those who cope with enormous levels of stress day after day, month after month ad nauseum. Life chucks all kinds of rubbish at them and they pick themselves up and keep on keeping on. How do they do it? Or, maybe the more important question to ask is why? Usually it’s because they have no choice, or the choices available to them are simply unpalatable.

For when society doesn’t provide – for example, a level of care and support that anyone would want for a loved one, what can you do? You put your back into it and you fight for that care and support, or you provide it yourself.

Anyone who’s read my words here before knows my views on self-care. It’s important, vital even. For if you don’t care for yourself, you won’t be able to continue providing care for another. Burn out happens to everyone – eventually. No matter how strong, how determined, it will knock you down at some point.

Please believe the damage which continuous levels of stress can do and allow yourself the chance to recover. Take a break and by that, I mean way more than just sitting down for a coffee and a KitKat … although that would certainly be a start.

© 2016 Caring Coaching originally posted 8th August 2016