Monday August 17th 2020

It is nice to not have to finish a holiday and crash straight back into my day job.  Whilst I have had a break, an opportunity to relax and rest, and then had those expectations changed as a reality began to set in.  I have spent time reflecting on recent news events, students facing disappointments from their A level results which have caused chaos across the nation, and fears as the thoughts of returning to school in September for people continues to raise questions and create anxieties.
We have spent so much of out time online recently, locked in our own little homes, away from what we used to call normal.  I have wondered how we will ever go back to how things used to be.  Or whether we will continue to observe a form of social distancing and wearing of masks.  It could mark the beginning of a cultural change for us as a country or as a society.
Of course, sometimes it is good to have a break from global and political shenanigans that we hear on the news, so it was nice to go for a meal under the eat out to help out scheme.  Although we waited an awfully long time, to the point it led to a confrontation as our order seemed to have been forgotten, my daughter became hungrier and increasing distressed.  It led me wondering about confrontation, how do we deal with confrontation, the difference between aggression and assertiveness.  There is often an idea that as british people, we do not complain.  it is not in our nature.  An yet we can avoid confrontation and antagonism, but still find ourselves with the dilemma.  How do we get our needs met if we feel they are being missed, or ignored?  Confrontation is an uncomfortable thing for me.  I much prefer a non-confrontational approach.  However, in the resturant I found myself having to ask where our food was, and not come off as being threatening or aggressive.  It was clear that other people were being served and although this wasn’t the most expensive meal, it was becoming a matter of principle.
I wasn’t sure how to confront the situation, they apologised and stated the food was coming, but then that leads to the next question, how long do you wait for your food?  How long is too long?  My wife was clearly getting frustrated too and gave them five minutes and stated we would be leaving after this.  It was as we were getting up to leave that the food then appeared.  So all was not lost and the food was delicious and they made my daughter smile with ice cream and garlic bread.  However, it did leave me questioning how I deal with confrontation.  Would I rather stay quiet rather than stand up and be assertive.  We can learn so many things on a given day if we choose to listen and reflect.
Outside of the counselling room, I can struggle to challenge people, in social situations.  On the whole, I like an easy going life, I can actively avoid confrontation even in my personal life.  I can allow thing that affect me and my emotions to be ‘brushed to one side’ and tell myself that I have dealt with it and that it doesn’t matter.  Until it does matter and until it does bother me.  Yet, if I see something affecting my daughter, or my wife, or someone I care about.  Then I can speak out, my needs being met is one thing, but the needs of people I care about brings about a different kind of beast.  As I write this I am aware that I haven’t clearly got an answer here, only more questions that I still need to go away and think about.
One of the benefits of this unusual time has been the opportunity to pause and reflect, personally, locally, nationally and globally.  Look at how things have been and how they are changing.
Things are changing, of that I have no doubt.  I’ve changed, and am changing, and as i sat down across from my client for the first time since lockdown became, in a new room at my voluntary counselling practice, socially distanced with sanitiser as we went in the room.  It was remarkable to see how things have been so different for so long that it has almost become ‘how it is today’.  This face to face session was a refreshing joy and something different that it became something new and I can’t remember the last time that something I used to do suddenly became something different and new again.
Take care as you navigate these strange and unusual times.
Sincerely Yours, Paul