Monday, October 15, 2007


I've been thinking today about this metaphor for therapy with some people, people who tend to stuff their feelings. The metaphor goes that feelings are like water pipes in a home. If the home goes a long time without being used, the water that comes out of the pipes when the water is first turned on is...well, let's just say, unpleasant. And it stays that way for awhile. But the only way to clear up the problem is to let the water run.

Feelings, in this metaphor, are like that water system in the old house. If we stuff them, if we don't let ourselves have them, then what emerges when they bubble to the surface is pain or anger. And we have to let that feeling continue, to face them and keep feeling, in order to eventually get to the point where more positive feelings can emerge.

I found myself thinking about this metaphor not long ago as I sat with someone struggling with this kind of issue. And I thought about the strange position I was in -- asking them to feel pain, asking them to face the thing they'd been avoiding for years.

But as I saw them do so, tears streaming down their face, being fully real in some important sense for the first time in a long time...I was simply awe struck by their courage, by their strength. It reminded me of that Biblical phrase my friend more cows has shared with me -- about strength being perfected in weakness.

Indeed it is.


Magdalene6127 said...

This is a beautiful and important metaphor. As someone who can tend to stuff, it's important to reckon the cost of that. Thanks Steve.

Wyldth1ng said...

I like it, I may use it in my future.

Rachel Rev said...

When I was serving a church in Indiana, I encountered a brilliant 12-year-old theologian/philosopher. We were talking about anger one day, and about stuffing that emotion inside. And this girl, who has absolutely no training in psychology and had never heard the term "passive-aggression" suggested that "if you don't let your anger come out, it's going to come out sideways". I have never forgotten that. And I use it again and again. Your post made me think of that. I like your metaphor.