Some people will be feeling thrilled as the portcullis comes down tomorrow and the drawbridge is pulled up, between Britain and mainland Europe. They will probably be waving their union jacks, saying ‘Cheers’ and feeling they have won the fight to be true to good old ‘Blighty’.
However, there will be a significant number of people – almost half the population – who may well be feeling less than happy. Even the dedicated Brexiteers may feel a twinge of anxiety or even regret, especially if they have European links and good memories of the continent.
Facing uncertainty is never easy. It reminds us of all of those times in our lives when we didn’t know what would happen. And this long drawn out ‘divorce’ will have ‘restimulated’ many of us who have actually lived through divorce and separation, not only as children, but also, as adults.
Uncertainty presses our survival buttons. It makes us feel insecure, afraid, worried for the future. Over the past three years, I have seen clients become increasingly anxious about their futures. The long-standing sense of not knowing which direction we were going in caused many sleepless nights and a sense of hopelessness and lack of trust.
Now Brexit is actually happening, it is still a step into the unknown. The first year, until December 31st 2020, will be a ‘phoney’ split. It will be like one of you going to sleep in the spare room when you begin to separate. Life seems the same, but is subtly, and increasingly, different.
The big issue will be the deals that are finally hammered out at the Exit. So our uncertainties will not be quelled entirely over this next year, although we may need to live as if they are. Living with ambiguity and indecision is tough and disorientating, and people like security, like to know where they are.
Transitions are also tough. They are exhausting, wearing, and never quite what you imagine they will be. The British Valhalla may turn out to be very different from the Brexiteers vision of ‘freedom’, and we will all still have to be braced for further change and indecision.
So how to stay sane in all of this? We have to look after ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally. It will be a year when self-care has never been so important. First, we need to recover from the battle, and secondly, to make sense of the peace. It may take even more effort, all round, to keep ourselves on an even keel.
Take time to recover, to refocus, and let the dust settle before making drastic decisions. No matter what we feel, life goes on. New beginnings always bring green shoots. Dead wood is swept away and you can use this situation to create something fresh, something different, and something positive.
At the heart of it all is the continued human need to connect, to care, to create, to rest, to relate, procreate, to have purpose. Hopefully, we can heal any rifts, and forge new understandings. The truer and more generous we are to ourselves and others around us at this time, the better.
Everything changes, everything moves on, and learning to adapt well to life’s challenges is what we each need to do.
We’re only human after all.