How To Take Your Emotional Temperature While Mixing Metaphors

2010 December 22

My teeth (right side, on the bottom) are sensitive to cold, so I try to avoid crunching ice cubes on that side or letting anything super chilly hit it in just the wrong way. Every once in a while, though, I like to test to see if the sensitivity is still there (my eyesight magically improved, so why not my teeth?), so I’ll deliberately take a big gulp of ice water just to see what happens.

Photo by Kuro no Kishi

In a similar way, it’s useful to occasionally take our emotional temperature instead of assuming constant and enduring truths about how we feel. Emotions fade, time heals, memory fails. You wouldn’t slap a SpongeBob band-aid on your scraped knee and then never bother to remove it to check how the healing was going, would you? Of course not. What hurt then doesn’t necessarily hurt now and what hurts now won’t necessarily hurt in the future. And the only way to figure out if you’ve gotten over what used to get to you? *Gasp*, it’s to let yourself revisit past hurts, angers and scars to assess whether they still sting in the same way. And if they don’t? Free up that space in your emotional attic!  We’re quick to bundle our pain into cardboard boxes, tape them shut, scrawl Do Not Open on top and shove them to the dustiest corner of our psyche. But space fills up fast in there. Eventually, you just stop opening the door lest you be crushed under an avalanche of old ticket stubs, sixth grade friendship bracelets, songs you can no longer listen to, pictures of happier times, emails undeleted, etc.

At least some of that emotional detritus is ripe for reusing and recycling. The statute of limitations on its hold over you has expired and once you discover that, you can sift through it, talk about it, forgive, forget, get drunk and laugh at your younger self, etc.  And then, finally reclaim that  prime real estate for other purposes*.

*That pony you’re going to get for Christmas has to go somewhere, right?

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How To Manage A Short Fuse: A Sanity-Saving Guide
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There's No Prize For Giving Your Guts Out
2 Responses
  1. 2010 December 22
    Ty Unglebower permalink

    I have the opposite problem. I spend too much time in that closet you speak of. And I get so sick of all the stuff there that I do tend to dash out, and nail the door shut for a while.

    I suppose some of the things that used to be in there have, over time, been taken down, examined, (with a bit of sting sometimes) and thrown away. But I know not only do I have too much in there, but I probably take it out and look at it far too often.

  2. 2010 December 22
    Anonymous permalink

    I think we all do that to some degree, but we tend to think through the same patterns or scenarios without really questioning whether there’s still genuine emotion behind them or if we’re just operating by rote because there’s a certain stability or comfort to having felt (or assumed we felt) the same way for so long.