In my grandmother’s home there is an old wooden trunk – a so-called “baoulo” as it’s known in our language. Meticulously folded table cloths and linens are stored in this trunk. My grandmother lovingly stashed fragrant bars of soap between the layers to keep fabric pests away. She has a story – taken from her life’s pages – to tell about each of these items.
A big, heavy flokati rug lies atop the baoulo. And on this rug my grandmother keeps blankets made of genuine wool. The flokati and woolen blanket mountain is protected from dust by a lovely throw. And here too of course she placed several fragrant pieces of soap.
Whenever my grandmother wants to take something out of this baoulo, she’s barely able to do so by herself because, as you can perhaps imagine, these layers of woolen blankets and flokati are quite heavy. Not that this would keep my grandmother from trying to do it anyway. But that’s another story.
Sometimes she asks for my help. We then join forces in heaving the rugs and blankets aside so we can access trunk’s heavy lid to open it. My grandmother tells me the various stories connected to the contents of this chest.
My grandmother regularly tends to every nook and cranny of her home. She has her rituals and goes about things in a set pattern. I think that makes a lot of sense.
So, now please imagine the following:
Your body and your psyche are your home. And deep down within you, there is also a treasure chest. When is the last time you had a look there? Perhaps several layers of wool blankets have accumulated on your trunk too? This making it difficult for you to access your personal “inner baoulo” – your “emotional trunk” – by yourself.
Perhaps you, like many others, have also put feelings of sadness, shame or loneliness into your emotional trunk at some point in their life? You probably had good reasons to do so at the time. Perhaps initially “parking” these emotions in the trunk was necessary for you to muster up the energy to continue on?
But you didn’t have the time to carefully fold everything and put it away with fragrant soaps. It had to go fast. Perhaps even so fast that it happened automatically and without according much attention to it? Indeed, your daily life was waiting for you. People close to you needed you. Or other good reasons prevented it.
The various memories associated with these feelings were thus also packed into the chest. At some point, the emotional trunk was full; it threatened to overflow and unintentionally reveal its interior. But instead of opening the chest and creating order, it was filled it with more – now larger – packages. Today it is difficult to open the chest by yourself. And who knows in which condition you’d find all the things inside? Who would want to expose his or herself to this unpleasant feeling?
So one’s emotions are all in the trunk and one asks oneself: "Why can't I be happy anymore?" It’s because joy has also been packed into this box along with all the other emotions.
With the exception of fear.
Fear is vital to survival. It warns us of danger and resists being stashed into the trunk. Thank your fear for not letting itself be locked away with the rest! It only has your best interest in mind and wants to protect you.
Sure, yes, it sometimes exaggerates to an excessive degree. But what is it supposed to do? You’ve locked away its support system, the entire emotion team. And now it has to deal alone with all the things that nature envisioned so many different emotions for!
If you ask me, it’s time to liberate every single emotion from the box so they can do their “work” again in everyday life. I would be happy to support you in this. Let me help you to carefully put the heavy blankets and flokati aside.
Open up your box of emotions.
Which memories will you keep and which will you sort out to another place?
Take your time as you carefully fold the important things and put them back inside the trunk, protected by fragrant soaps. Some of our pain and some of our memories accompany us bittersweetly and close to our hearts all throughout life.
Spend time tending to your emotional trunk on a regular basis because, as my grandmother always says, “a house that you don't tend to becomes dilapidated and falls to ruin”.
In the future, I want you to be able to lift the lid at any time, by yourself and without effort.
Accompanied by pleasant scents, you should be able to contemplate your memories – the good ones and the not-so-good ones – because experiencing them has enriched you.
I would like you to feel your feelings, the pleasant and the unpleasant ones, because they are all equally important.
If your emotional trunk cannot be opened right now alone, go and seek help. My grandmother is also used to doing everything on her own. To her I often say: “I know you can do it alone but it goes much faster if we do it together”.