compartmentalize emotion

What Floor Do You Live On?

How We Compartmentalize Emotions

When I was in my twenties, I was facing a few life issues, so were my friends.  Today, with the pandemic, civil unrest, unemployment, businesses closing, children learning from home, working remotely, no graduation or prom celebrations, and death. People are facing a lot of things.  

If we were to imagine our lives in our twenties and what we might have been facing, it might look like a studio apartment (one floor).  Because you were dealing with a new pimple, which makes it’s home in the kitchen area,  a bad break-up, that’s taking up space in the bedroom area, and low wages, firmly planted on your sofa.  You knew where you were because your space occupied one floor. But as our lives progress, the space we need to handle all that we are facing increases.   

So, we move to a bigger space, a two-bedroom apartment. We think we will be happier there.  But then we realize that if left unresolved, those issues come with us, and then we find ourselves concerned about the health of a parent, a brother’s new baby, and the domestic violence a friend is facing.  Everything is occupying a different room on the same floor, crowded. 

The older we get, the more space we need. Why? Because we recognize that life is full of challenges, and while we believe we can deal with our “stuff,” we are powerless over what is happening to everyone we love. So we just get a bigger place. What about a threestory townhousethat should be enough space to hold it all.  Maybe, maybe not. 

So here is the question; what floor do you live on? Yeah, I know preposition at the end of a sentence is bad grammar, let’s say it is for emphasis. In the midst of all that, you are dealing with TODAY, where are you? 

In the basement playroom, with the pandemic, or civil unrest in the bathroom? Sometimes we place big things in small spaces because we don’t know what to do with it. If I were to look for you right now, would I find you in the living room with your sick loved one? Or in the kitchen with fifteen things, not knowing what to address first? 

Perhaps you are working remotely from your third floor home office, preparing for your next Zoom meeting, and buttoning up your emotions, hiding them behind your armor, shutting everything in to get through the day. Before the meeting, though, you need to run to the bathroom on the first floor to throw up because it’s just too much. Who can you talk to, what can you do? You think I can’t think about this now the call is in 15 minutes, so you head back to the third-floor office. You are tired and weak. You have started to compartmentalize strong emotions and now you are overwhelmed.

Can you imagine this threestory townhouse? Switch the situations to fit your life. Admit, you are full of emotions. Admit that one of the emotions is rage. Rage about_______, you fill in the blank. 

As I close this seemingly sad article, I want to encourage you to think about a few things: 

  • YES, a lot is going on in the world and specifically in your life. 
  • NO, you cannot take everything on, or fix most of it. 
  • Your feelings are valid, even if you are the only one who agrees. 

Moving into this New Dynamic, please find the coping mechanism that frees you so you can continue to bring YOUR light to the world. You can only answer the question you were put here to answer. So don’lose focus. Don’t give up! 

Go to your bedroom on the first floor, turn up the music as loud as possible. SCREAM until you weep. Get in that home gym and punch the bag like it is the monster of emotion you will overcome. Take a break. 

Finally, go to the backyard of peace, stand in the center, raise your arms, look up. Take in the beauty and wonder of God’s blue sky. Appreciate yourself. Think of one positive thing that can bring you joy right now (for me, it is pictures of babies of all races and creeds). SMILE. 

When you get back to your bedroom on the first floor, recognize you are first! This is your space, remember to keep it calming, a safe space where you can go to shut out everything that occupies the other floors in your townhouse. 

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