Even though we begin building our box at birth and even though in many respects it can become a prison for many if not most people, still, there is a need for a “box.”
The box means many things. It can mean “a place to hide” or it can be a facade to those around us so that others can not see the real person inside. It can be a place where we hide ourselves away from those around us or even hide ourselves from ourselves so much so that – what we think we see of ourselves is actually nothing more than a painted box, one we created and painted our self so that even we do not know what is actually inside.
Some of the time the box is used for protection. This, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. In fact, I want to show you why you need a box and for just this purpose even if it is used for other purposes as well.
Protection is the greatest thing about this box we create for ourselves. We all have our vulnerabilities. We all have our pitfalls, short comings, failures, faults, or what ever you choose to see as less than desirable. This box is a place to keep these things hidden from the general view of others and in some way protect ourselves from the outside scrutiny. This ability to hide the “true self” by covering it with a box of some kind ultimately protects the individual “self” from the pain that could be inflicted by those wishing us harm or even from those that love us but unknowingly or without understanding cause further pain or suffering.
Not all hiding away of, shall we say, “dirty laundry” is a bad thing. I certainly do not wish to see everyone’s dirty laundry. I have enough of my own to deal with without having to deal with yours. This is not to say that there is not a time to “air it out.” Keeping things from others can be a good thing at times. Just so long as you give yourself the moment to let it come into full view when it is needed.
It seems that it has become fashionable to allow children to “express themselves” to the point that everyone else has to swallow their feelings so that children can deliver an unrelenting barrage of expressed opinions no matter how unrealistic, how selfish, or how way out of bounds they are. This is a travesty in my opinion. It teaches nothing of respect for others. How this relates to respect? Others don’t want to hear everything that is on everyone’s mind. Not only do they not want to hear it but they couldn’t handle it even if they did. And to expand on this this… If we were to allow all others to say everything that was on their mind, sooner or later everyone would stop listening because very little would have meaning to the real issues at hand. This would lead to those that are verbalizing or expressing all of what they feel to assume that what they feel doesn’t really matter. A great loss for all of us.
So, how does this box protect us? Let me give some explanation. Lets say that you really want to express yourself fully and say what is on your mind. Do this to your boss and you will wind up losing your job at some point. It may be OK at times to confer what you think to others but, as a good friend of mine would say, it would need to be “filtered” first. Through your filter and through a filter that you place in the path so that some misunderstanding would NOT occur. This is not to say that it would BE understood. Just that an attempt using language (both body and verbal types) convey the thoughts that you have without endangering the intended outcome. In other words, you have to say what you think but in a manner that the other person will intemperate in a correct understanding so that what you want to say is understood but without causing ill feelings, misinterpretations, or misunderstandings in the process.
What about that girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, family member, etc… that you really feel the need to convey some thought or feeling to? Do you use the box to hide some things while (in that context) opening just a portion for them to see what is inside but keeping some things out of view? Of course you do. Why? Not so much to protect yourself sometimes as to protect them. You see, others don’t always see things quite the way you do. They may not understand because they have not experienced all that is involved in the causing the feelings in the first place. They have caused the initial feelings or may have been a part of it but may not understand why it is that YOU feel this way. This is the reason that you show them a portion of the whole. They could not handle the whole thing as it were. So, the box, in this instance, is for THEIR protection and you in return.
So why we need the box…
Mostly for self protection/preservation. Not just for ourselves but for others as well. Not because we don’t want to be real. Not because we can’t be real. Knowing when to be completely open and when to hold back and hide just a little or more takes a lifetime of trial and error to become proficient and to maintain peace and harmony in life.
My sweet wife recently told me that she loves it because she can share anything and everything with me. I almost immediately said… “I hope not.” This was not to hurt. She understood though I had to explain just a little. You see… I have problems of my own. I have thoughts of my own. I can not handle all of my thoughts, all of her thoughts, all of anyone’s thoughts along with mine. I can not feel what she feels though I’d like to think I can come close and I do in many cases. I know her well and she knows me well. We are friends like I’ve never experienced before with anyone else. But this is one of the beauties of the relationship. Does it mean that she can’t share with me what she thinks? In her own words? As she is thinking them? Absolutely not. She can and she does. But with just a bit of “filter” (as another good friend of mine says) to what she is saying to me. Just not everything all at once all the time
Because she IS my best friend, I CAN handle more from her than I could from others. I don’t judge her and I accept her just as she is. Just as she does me. Faults and all. And that is saying quite a bit. We ALL have faults. Finding someone that can accept you as you are it a rare thing. Still it IS possible. And “Faults” may not be the best word here. Maybe I should call them traits as there are certain traits of anyone’s personality that are different and acceptable to some and unacceptable to others.
I have other friends as well. Some with whom I can share things with that I would tell no-one else (though you have to be careful about this) and others that I can share only part of what I think. They could not handle some of what I think. It is either too deep, too shallow, too technical, too emotional, too unemotional, too elementary, too sophisticated, too abase, too _________ (place whatever you like in the space). Needless to say, I have a wonderful group of friends. They all have a valuable place in my life and I appreciate each and every one of them. What I am saying is that we all need friends. Some of us more than others but we all do need them.
The way to have friends? Show yourself to be friendly. That is the only way. Otherwise you will never get involved in the friendship relationship enough to ever be anything to anyone or them to you. You have to open the door of your box to others and let them inside. At least in the foyer to see if they approve of what the beginning of your box looks like. If they can stand that part or accept that part then you show a little more. This is the growth period. The beginning of the relationship. The opening of yourself to others. I’m not suggesting that you show them every room in your box. I’m not saying that you should feel comfortable opening the doors to your closets of dead bones to show off your past. They really don’t want to see that part. Those parts of your box should be reserved for those that need to see them and only when they are ready to see them and then only so that you can clean them out and get rid of them.
Box cleaning is important. You can not live a healthy life inside your box or outside if the inside is filthy. It has to go through some cleaning from time to time. Its a “life sanitation” thing. But, you do NEED this box of yours.
Lets talk more about this box another time.
Till then, I’m looking forward to hearing from you. Your thoughts about these thoughts.