In keeping with yesterday’s proto post about steam heat, I’m thinking about the usefulness of water for emotional metaphors (I am not going to get bogged down in fixing that sentence… yes, I know the metaphors are not emotional)

First, H2O is amazing as I have been relearning via my child’s freshman biology class. It’s the only substance that naturally exists as a solid, liquid, and gas. Its solid form is less dense than its liquid, hence ice rising, hence oceans not freezing, hence life on earth. Its liquid form is second only to mercury in surface tension strength. I’m not (yet) certain why that’s important but it’s really cool.

I (kinda) understand the molecular wizardry at play but for now I want to head back to metaphors.

Oops, just hit me that words like icy, simmering, boiling don’t only apply to water. What I am after is change in states. Water is just particularly compelling and common.

Anyhoo. Yeah, it’s good to write because I was at a boiling point earlier. Noodling with words has calmed me down a bit. Still hot but more at a simmer.

OK I need to give myself permission to leave this dangling. Keep it on the stove but turn off the burner.

I also need to be OK with anger and even rage.

Funny how I can’t just sit down and start with a scream. It’s more comfortable to bury the lead. In fairness, my interest in water and chemistry (or is it physics?) is genuine. And I am easily distracted.

Tonight I could feel anger working its way through my body the way steam follows the coils of a radiator. I ducked into my office to keep the heat contained. Didn’t want to scald others. I am actually a little proud of my increasing ability to create space between emotions and reactions.

We are not our emotions. Sounds obvious and/or glib. But it’s one of the big takeaways from last summer’s IOP.

Why do we do the things we do? According to cognitive behavioral theory (CBT) , events lead to thoughts which spark emotions which spur reaction. Something happens, we interpret it, have feelings about that interpretation, and act on those feelings.

CBT urges us to challenge our thoughts. Are we catastrophizing? Seeing things in black and white? Using all or nothing thinking? Reining in thoughts helps regulate emotions which reduces reactivity and makes it easier to make prudent decisions.

However, sometimes we are not making mountains out of molehills. Sometimes we are indeed facing Mordor. Our emotional response may not be excessive. Even then, we can still control our behavior. Emotions, thoughts, past events, future fears don’t have to derail or crash the train. We can pull the emergency break.

OK I’m going to pick this up in my next post instead. Tired. I need to start drafting during the day!

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