Great relationships are foundational to building health. And, understanding the emotional cup is foundational to building great relationships.
[featured-image single_newwindow=”false” alt=”Healthy Relationships Make Healthy People”]Image from Sutterstock Created in Canva[/featured-image]
Everyone wants great relationships, but the tools necessary to bring them about are rarely taught…..
We are relational beings to the core. And, we are built with the capacity to feel emotion. When I started learning about this, my emotional vocabulary was about on the level of a first grader. I had a handful of emotional words: happy, sad, angry, pissed off.
I prided myself in being an stoic Swede and an emotional rock. I thought is was a strength. I thought my wife was just an emotional mess. Was I ever wrong!
We went through a five day marriage intensive, that used material from David Ferguson’s book Intimate Encounters. To my surprise, I learned that burying emotions is not exactly a healthy practice in marriage. In addition, I had the capacity to experience far more emotions than I ever dreamed possible.
[callout]Each of us carries our emotions in a compartment in our minds. We can call this compartment our emotional cup.[/callout]
One of the concepts I learned was the Emotional Cup. It looks like this. Each of us carries our emotions in a compartment in our minds. We can call this compartment our emotional cup.
At any given moment our cups are filling up with various emotions that others cannot see. They could be filing up with disappointment, or sadness. It could be frustration, or jealousy. There could be a whole host of others, including positive emotions.
The point is this: our capacity to handle these emotions is limited. When we’ve reached the point where we can’t handle any more emotions in our cup, what’s in the cup spills over on to the people around us. They take the form of undesirable behaviors that others can see, and do notice. We call these symptoms.
These symptoms could be: self-centeredness, or rage, or biting sarcasm. They could be passive in nature such as: withdrawal, or silence. What spills out can also take the form of self medication such as drugs or alcohol. It could be any form of addictive behavior, such as too much time on the golf course, or in front of the TV, etc.
The exact form they take is not the point either. The point is, the behavior is not the problem. The behaviors that we’re seeing are symptoms. The problem lies in what’s filling our emotional cups at any given moment.
We must stop focusing on the symptomatic behavior and drill down on what’s in our emotional cups. Emotions are not a bad thing. They tell us what’s going on inside. However, we must process them; we mustn’t get emotionally constipated. If we do, our cups will fill up and symptoms will spill out, and they won’t smell too good.
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