Be then thine own home, and in thyself dwell;

Inn anywhere; continuance maketh hell.

And seeing the snail which everywhere doth roam,

Carrying his own house still, still is at home,

Follow (for he is easy paced) this snail,

Be thine own palace, or the world’s thy jail.

John Donne 1571-1631

With so much talk of freedom of movement and hard borders in political debate over the past 50 years or more, I thought about how much other cultures in Europe have changed our own.

This poem by John Donne goes on to talk about learning from one another and from other cultures. The snail metaphor is not promoting a life without others or to be reclusive in our own shell. On the contrary, it speaks of being at home wherever you travel; of being so content with yourself that you could endure any change in life.

What do you see when you think of the word ‘palace’? Opulence, treasures, comfort maybe? And what do you think of when you think of the word ‘jail’? Claustrophobic, dark, empty, isolation?

Our minds are palaces of treasured memories, experience, talents, resources, loves and passions, resilience. Why not celebrate that? Why not make that what we call home?

A common feature of my work with clients is what therapists might call ego strengthening or boosting. I do this in every session because you may be surprised just how uncomfortable people can be in their own skin.

Many clients struggle with listing their skills, resources, successes especially when coping with change. Outside of a job interview, we rarely make the effort to think of how skilled and adaptable we are but will easily list our objectives, our failures and make absolute demands on ourselves: I should, I must, if only I had…

Change in life is one of the few constants. Sometimes that change is small, sometimes very big. Assuming you use the treasures of your palace, there is nothing in life that can make you feel overwhelmed, only the way you respond.

The way you respond to change using the many resources you have, will affect the way you feel about it. It may not always be pleasant. Some change is very sad and challenging but you have a choice: a choice to view the change as too much or to see it as a phase in your life which will pass. You will always have your palace.