When you first see a hippo in a river or lake, only a small part of the animal is visible - usually the eyes, ears and snout, breaking the surface. It's difficult to tell much about what is under the water. We humans are similar. When we meet someone new, initially we only see a small part of who they are - and often, this is only what that other person is prepared to show us. As with hippos, there is so much more to explore beyond first impressions.
People are fascinating. We are all so many different things, sometimes all at the same time - and we continually change and evolve. Hippos are often portrayed as cartoon or cuddly creatures, when in fact they are some of the most fearsome animals in the wild. Similarly, all of us have a light and a dark side, with so many shades in between. We are all flawed and imperfect humans, but also we all have the capacity to be divine and bright sparks in the world.
Hippos waddle - round and ungainly - on the river bank, but underwater, they swim freely and gracefully. Likewise, our environment is so important - circumstances can leave us struggling, or swimming strongly. Adverse childhood experiences, toxic relationships, money struggles, employment issues, loneliness - living in circumstances where nobody really "gets" us - can all be detrimental to wellbeing and contentment. Feeling that we have no control over our situation makes matters worse. What we can do, however, is start to examine different aspects of our lives; explore how we got there; and start to look at our situation in a new light, finding another way forward.
This is where counselling can help. A counsellor can meet you where you are now; help you look at the issues you face, in a safe, non-judgemental environment; explore what influences, relationships and environment have done to you; and support you as you find a different path to cope with the future.
With grateful thanks to Sian Manfield for the photo.