For Linda G. Hill’s “Stream of Consciousness Saturday” prompt: “container”
Lately, I have been reflecting on my excessive emotion and unhinged behavior and the disastrous consequences they have had on my life, and then up came this prompt in my blog post feed. Containers—why, that’s just what I need! A good, sturdy container to put my emotions in!
I am aware that there has to be an appropriate and proportionate way to express emotions. How do we achieve that, though? “Containers” isn’t a bad concept to use, when you think about it; something to contain—and preserve—the emotions to prevent us from becoming completely out of control and to help us exercise rationality when making decisions.
Suppose we were to go shopping for a new container to store our emotions in. What factors should we consider?
First of all, the size—how much do we need to fit in? Are we deranged, or completely flat? It’s a good opportunity to evaluate whether we are devoid of rationality or devoid of humanity. Too much emotion or too little are both bad. Too much, and you’ll behave like a lunatic, taking everything personally, crying, acting like the “Leave Britney Alone” guy. Too little, and you will impoverish and cheat yourself, and starve your relationships with other people. Or kill people. I think I’ll select the bigger vessel.
Of course, we don’t want to seal up the container entirely. An airtight container could turn out to be a bad thing. In many cases, when “contents are under pressure,” it is quite dangerous. On the other hand, we could smother and kill the contents for lack of oxygen. Everyone is scared of the guy who seems all nice and calm and then suddenly explodes in a terrifying fit of rage. I prefer to see things coming so I can perhaps avert them. But there’s also people who bury their emotions so deeply that when they do need them again, they are no longer to be found. That can be tragic, to be unable to feel when you know you need it. But they can be scary too, like the type of person who will go eat waffles after their mother dies in a Ronald McDonald house.
The container should be somewhat transparent with the ability to let the contents breathe. When not in the throes of a paroxysm of hysteria, we can take that time to assess what’s actually going on inside of us before it becomes a problem. It’s like practicing a sport or doing a fire drill. When the time comes, you have to be ready to put your principles into practice.
I’ve tried a lot of tactics to help me, mostly with no avail. Good Samaritans and my own victims have made all kinds of helpful recommendations to me: mantras, counting backwards, stoicism, religion, deep breathing, medication, padded rooms. Ultimately, though, the problem is clearly my own inability to properly regulate my own emotions. These things are tools that are effective only if I make the effort to use them. But I do think I have finally reached a point where I’ve embarrassed myself and caused enough problems that I’m ready to throw in the towel with this over-emotional business. How many times can you humiliate yourself in public and lose jobs because of your ridiculous behavior?
Yes, I am THAT woman. You know the type.
I heard this in church the other day which I think is apropos for reflecting on the use of a container for our emotions.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.” (Eccl 3:1-8)
(I hope it’s not too late, and I am sorry if you have the song in your head now.)
Without strong emotion, though, we wouldn’t have the ability to experience life on both the highest and deepest levels. For better or worse, emotions color our world. I’ve glossed over the positives of emotion: joy, love, ecstasy. I think I will always be sentimental, and if I may compliment myself, I would say I am empathetic, as well, and I feel things deeply. I don’t wish to lose those things in pursuit of excessive practicality. I do, however, wish to stop making crowds gather around me when I don’t get what I ordered.