insensitive? or just a bit socially inept?

Did he really say that? we gasp at the television

As we sit around in family bubbles

Comfortable in the knowledge that for now we are safe,

For now we haven’t got to make decisions

Over who can have a breath of air and who will lose

A husband or a wife, or even, God forbid, a child.

It’s pretty easy slouching on the comfy couch

To call out words, incogitant to our senseless ears.

But faced with choices hard as these,

Day after day and week after week

Would we not also slip on words, committing gaffs

And angering the world at large?

Perhaps he isn’t quite as evil as we like to say,

Perhaps he’s just a little out of step?

I went on Twitter this afternoon and our Health Secretary, here in the UK, had written that ‘only 36’ people had died today. It was, of course, trending and people were outraged at his choice of words.

Now, I’m not a huge fan of Mr Hancock so I’m not about to go on a political rant in defence of him, but it did get me thinking a little bit about the words we choose and the effect they have on people, especially in times like these, when just the smallest of things can prove to be explosive.

Most people on Twitter had a problem with the word ‘only’ because it made the statement seem pretty flippant. All of the families of those 36 people will be grieving and Hancock basically made the figure sound like he was counting how many buses had passed by his house this afternoon.

However, I do think that it is really easy to pull somebody apart on one word and I’m sure we’ve all been in that situation where we have said something in haste and only realised a bit too late that it has caused offence.

We have to remember that these politicians have been under a fair amount of stress and a lot of public scrutiny for months now. Whether we like them or not, that is a lot of time to be centre stage and it would be easy to make at least a few slip ups in that time.

The Conservatives can be a little out of step with the rest of us serfs and I think that sometimes that can cause some upset without them realising. When there is any kind of divide, language can be so important in building relations. I sometimes think that politicians (and not just Tories) don’t have a clue that they upset some people so they are being hurtful through ignorance rather than through any maliciousness.

I think that Matt Hancock chose his words pretty badly, but I think that it serves as an example as to how we can all learn to think before we speak and also to give people a bit of slack if they do slip up. If they really don’t understand where they have gone wrong, then perhaps education rather than a berating would be better.

Much Love

Rachel xx

when your cup overflows

Picture this:

A cup full up

To the top,

Perfect volume,

Not a drop too much.

And then you go and drop

A fucking pebble

In my little beaker.

Water spills

And puddles form.

You laughed that it

Was only one small stone,

But what was perfect

Now is just a mess.

I went to a CBT counsellor a couple of years ago. I was in a really bad place and my nerves were fraught. I went to one of my sessions, having had a really bad day. I was smiling but it was a real effort to keep up the pretence that everything was OK that day.

When I arrived at the building where my session was I had to ring the bell to get in. That day the bell was broken and I stood on the doorstep for ten minutes wondering what to do.

By the time the counsellor realised that I was downstairs and had come down to let me in I had gone into meltdown. She found me on the doorstep, sobbing and struggling to articulate what was wrong.

When she brought me up to her office and calmed me down she explained what happens in these situations with this cup analogy and I found it really helpful.

She told me that our emotions are like a cup of water. As we get more stressed the cup gets more and more full and yet we can still hold it together. Eventually it gets so full that it only takes one small thing, like a pebble, to overflow and go everywhere. On that day it was the doorbell that was my pebble causing my cup to overflow.

I had a similar thing happen today. I got an email to say that my new job couldn’t accept one of my references and I had to find another. It’s no big deal but it knocked me and I spent the whole day avoiding people and just generally going into my old patterns of behaviour.

I’ve given myself a good talking to, but it has shown me that it’s still so easy to have a small thing push me into a dark place. If you have had a pebble dropped into your cup, then I feel for you. Don’t feel ashamed and like you are overreacting. Only you know what you have been through and nobody else is allowed to judge you for crying over the fact that you’ve run out of milk.

Go easy on yourself and let yourself cry or shout or scream or go quiet. Whatever you need to do to feel better is allowed.

Much Love

Rachel xx

how to be uncool

It’s a difficult thing, to be uncool.

At least that’s what I think as I walk through this world

Watching the hot shots and players, moving in packs.

You might think it’s harder to make it to cool,

It’s a status we all wish for, that is for sure.

But isn’t it harder to let that guard slip?

Isn’t it tougher to show your soft centre,

Your flaws and your fears?

Running in packs is easy to do,

But bounding along on your own special course,

There is danger in that and it lurks in wait.

It hides in the grasses waiting to pounce,

The moment your uncoolness opens you up

To all of the ridicule coming your way.

Better to change the stripes that you wear

To something more spotty and fierce.

You don’t want to be the next casualty

On this animal plain.

So get in your box and pretend to be cool,

The alternative choice is far less attractive,

It’s the well worn choice of every known fool.

“The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool.”

Lester Bangs, Almost Famous

It’s like the Serengeti out there if you think about it. There are the cool kids out on the playground and they are the Cheetahs of the world. And then there are the ones like me who bound around in a world of their own. They’re not cool, but they’re having fun just being themselves.

It only takes a chink in your armour and the big cats can attack though. And they will drag you down as hard as they can because that’s how they maintain their place at the top.

You may argue that it’s really hard to become one of those cool kids, but actually it’s harder to be uncool. Because being uncool means showing all of yourself, even the really embarrassing or negative parts of yourself. There is a vulnerability in it and that takes strength.

So, you might think you want to be one of the popular kids in your workplace or church or community, but really you should be aspiring to be one of the uncool ones. That’s where the real you lies and where you will find the deepest connections with others. And that’s a wonderful place to be if you have the strength to allow yourself there.

Much Love

Rachel xx