[This post is part of the ‘Are Women Crazy’ series. Check out the other posts here!]
Some of us manage to dodge the ‘crazy’ label because our insecurity is disguised. It’s still very real and very dangerous but it comes out through apathy or positive emotions, so we avoid the over-emotional meltdown and convince ourselves that we’re doing swell.
Some of us wear our insecurity a little more visibly. It comes out in the form of negative emotions, whether it’s anger or tears or anxiety.
Insecurity can cause us to experience disproportionate emotional responses to reality. We overreact and create a whole lot of drama out of nothing.
Let’s say we were graphing our reality based on the intensity of the circumstance:
The reality graphed above is not excessive. Our circumstances may not be highly intense on paper. However, something about the situation bumps up against the places that we have placed our security and worth. Instead of responding to what’s really happening, we respond to the threat to our security; we respond out of the panic of losing our identity.
We end up having an emotional reaction that is bigger than our reality. We find ourselves in the ’emotional sandbox’, responding as if our situation is way more intense than it actually is:
WHAT IS THE EMOTIONAL SANDBOX?
The emotional sandbox is a disproportionate response to our situation. It’s an over-reaction that winds up making us feel like our circumstances are a lot more intense than they actually are. When we play in the emotional sandbox, we’re not responding to reality. We’re responding to a threat against our sources of security and worth.
Couple of examples:
- the reality may be that we’ve got a busy week at work, but if we find our security in success in the work place we become overly anxious and overwhelmed because instead of seeing reality, all we can see is the potential of losing our identity. All of a sudden, what was just a couple of extra things on our to-do list, becomes an all-consuming monster. Our insecurity leads us to up the severity of the situation and what was a simple matter of work becomes a life-and-death situation. We’re playing in the emotional sandbox.
- the reality may be that a friend of mine fails to invite me to dinner. A normal response might be to ask her what happened, but because the lack of an invite pushes at my insecurity, I create a much more intense circumstance. My fear of rejection creates an emotional response that would only be proportional if my friend had called me up and told me she hated me. I’m playing in the emotional sandbox.
When even the smallest circumstance brushes up against our source of security, the emotional baggage that’s produced leads us to have an irrational response. ‘Craziness’ is what happens when our emotions exceed reality. Our emotions are responding to a more intense circumstance than we’re actually facing.
Here’s a couple of questions for you to consider before we move forward:
- Where are your emotional responses a disproportionate response to reality?
- Think about a circumstance in your life that feels intense. Now consider your reality on paper. Is your fear or anxiety or insecurity causing this circumstance to seem more intense than it is?
Don’t fear, we’re not done with the ’emotional sandbox’. In the next couple of blogs we’ll talk through:
- The Danger of the Sandbox
- The Sandbox and God
- The Sandbox vs. the Proportional Response
- Fighting the Sandbox
In the meantime, let me know if this emotional sandbox concept is helpful! I’d love to hear what you guys are processing!