The Bathtub Effect

At this moment in my life I am working extremely hard to sort through some emotional baggage. Past hurt and guilt have been with me for far too long. I recognize that there have been many times over the last year or two that most of my pain has come out in expressed ways I am not proud of. I am learning that there are many others who have the same problems with expressing and communicating emotion.

Many of the ways I learned to communicate my emotions were learned experiences from my parents. However, now, I am an adult, and as an adult I have the freedom to choose how I live my life, as well as, choose how I want to communicate my emotions to others. No matter what my parents did or didn’t do for me emotionally as a child, that is not their fault. I do not blame them for my upbringing. They were simply raising me and my brother the very best way they knew how. They could only teach me what they had the capacity and ability to teach; most of which, they had been taught by their parents. Despite any past personal opinions on my upbringing, today, I am extremely grateful to my mom and dad for raising me to be the woman I am today. Hell, at least I developed the self awareness to know what does and does not work for me! So kudos to them!

Emotions make me feel extremely overwhelmed. For instance, let’s compare me to a bathtub. This is what I like to call, The Bathtub Effect. I’m a bathtub and I’m getting filled with water (ie emotional input) and my overflow drain is only so big, so it can only flush out so much rising water at a time. Eventually the water starts to fill up the tub. As the water continues to flow in, my tub will become so full, the water overflows and pours out onto the floor (ie my emotions). Then, I am stuck with a huge wet floor to clean up. What a mess! If I don’t clean it up, water can get into the cracks and rot the subfloor. Hopefully, you get my analogy by this point. That constant flow of others emotions, as well as my own, that pour into my “bathtub” cause me to fill up and eventually, overflow. Once I’m full, I either shutdown completely or become so angry, I end up saying things I often regret. Now let me reiterate here, this is not something I am proud of. It’s taken me a long time to get to this point in my life where I can recognize this in myself. I am not scared to write this here for anyone and everyone to read. I am not ashamed of who I am, nor am I ashamed of my past. I know my truth. And this is merely one fraction of it.

Now moving on…

This next bit is taken from a post written by Karyn Hall, PhD in article entitled, Understanding Validation: A Way to Communicate Acceptance

Validation is the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors as understandable. Self-validation is the recognition and acceptance of your own thoughts, feelings, sensations and behaviors as understandable

It’s hard to validate someone else’s feelings sometimes. I get that. Especially when one may not fully understand or agree with how the other person feels. What I learned from reading this article is that validation of another’s feelings does not necessarily mean you are agreeing with what that person is feeling or saying. It simply means that you recognize their right to feel or believe a certain way. I also see this as allowing others to be who they are. There is so much freedom in that. Being free to be who you are around others is well…freeing! It has the power to change a situation and someone’s life for the better. And who doesn’t like great relationships, experiences & things? It creates space to grow. Within that space, so many awesome things can transpire just by simply validating one another.

“Often one of the reasons other people are uncomfortable with intense emotion is that they don’t know what to say. Just being present, paying complete attention to the person in a nonjudgmental way, is often the answer. For yourself, being mindful of your own emotion is the first step to accepting your emotion.” –Karyn Hall, PhD

Sometimes it takes surrounding yourself with people who accept and give you that validation, or freedom to express yourself and be who you are. BUT, it’s not up to everyone around you to constantly validate you. You must develop it within yourself as well. It can honestly make a world of difference. For me, I am noticing that I am attracted to people who keep me in the narrative of not feeling validated because honestly, that’s what I am used to. I still don’t feel 100% accepted for who I am by my parents, but I know one thing is for sure, I don’t hide myself, my opinions or true feelings from them. I am currently in the process of working to gain my own self-validation. I am making great progress! Not to say I am right about everything I express an opinion about or my feelings are right about something. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about being free.

You can find a link to the referenced article on or by clicking the link below:

Understanding Validation: A Way to Communicate Acceptance

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.