of airlocks and currents

I have a tendency to react too quickly, and often negatively, in situations where I feel threatened in some way. Not in the sense of bodily harm, but emotionally. Threat of loss, threat of pain, threat of shame. Something like that. Because that's what all conflict comes down to - a fear of some kind.

In working on this, I came up with a visualization that helps. I think of an airlock, on a space shuttle. The small room between the body of the ship and the universe outside. It's a safe, secure threshold where astronauts can take their time suiting up before unlatching the door and heading out into the stars.

When something upsets me, I try to remember that I have an airlock, too. I have a space where I can get prepared, quietly, at my own pace. Where I can hesitate, if I need to. Where I can adjust to changes in pressure. Where I can calmly plan before unlocking the door to the world.

If you, too, struggle with being reactive - remember your airlock. And don't open the door until you're good and ready.


Along those same lines, here's another metaphor I find useful:

I know enough about myself to question my first, and sometimes even my second, impulses. I just have too many unresolved issues to let them be reliable guides for behavior. The problem is, they're impulses. They are so very beguiling; so seductive. They can overpower me with temptation, because they're right there. They appear suddenly and organically, so they must be trustworthy, right?


Impulses are like pretty little fish that swarm around you in the ocean. They're captivating, sure, but if you're not careful, they'll lead you astray in dangerous waters, distracting you from other potential perils. They're close to the surface; superficial. Observe them, but don't follow them.

Currents, on the other hand - those are your instincts. Always heed those. Currents we feel deeply, with the whole of our bodies. We can't ignore them. They are the underwater winds that pull us in one direction or another, warning us when we've strayed too far from shore.

It's not a flawless metaphor. It's one you can't think too much about lest it unravel. But it's something.