Emotional Jellyfish

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I should warn you straight off — I am very tired from midnight shifts and should be in bed sleeping, but I have been wanting to blog and for whatever reason, I felt the urge to do it right now!

I think there are two basic ways to approach the world, in particular, when it comes to emotional issues. When someone you care about has to talk to you about something uncomfortable, or one of you has hurt the other, you can take one of two stances: become a tank, or become a jellyfish. Let me explain.

You can choose to become a tank (as in, indestructible vehicle of war, not vessel for holding liquids!). You can choose to put up your strongest armour so that you are completely un-touchable, un-hurtable, impermeable, etc. Nothing the other person says will sink in, and you have the ultimate in defenses. You also, if you choose to, can go on the offensive; you can hurl the weapons of hurtful words, bring up past issues, or simply bulldoze over the other person by totally disrespecting them, making decisions for them as if they were a child, or making huge, gigantic assumptions about them so you don’t have to really get to know them. And you can thrive in your denial and ignorance — after all, your view is only out one small window in one small direction. This is what it means to be a tank.

jellyfishOr you can choose to be a jellyfish. You can be free-floating, allowing the emotional situation to surround you, and be in it. You aren’t defensive in any way, simply accept what the other person says, while taking in the full surroundings, including the temperature of the water (the spirit the words are said in). You aren’t mortally wounded by what the other person says or does, it sort of just bounces off you. But you are not in denial either, and have incredible clarity, presence and focus. This is what it means to be a jellyfish.

Now you may be thinking “ah-ha! Jellyfish have tentacles that sting, how come you haven’t talked about that?!?” Well, yes, they do. But these are used to kill their food, and if you’re eating someone close to you, you need more help than my simple analogy can give! 🙂  Or, we could say that even jellyfish have some form of defense, and also propulsion, so if you need to leave a situation that’s continually hurtful to you, to survive, do it. But you don’t actually have to be a tank to do it. You can be a jellyfish, and be in the reality of your situation, even if it’s something traumatic, and you will not die from it, but be stronger. Denial clouds your thinking, and it’s much better to just breathe deeply, stay present, and realize that you are surrounded and supported by a loving spiritual environment, like warm ocean waters. Get in the flow, breathe.

This analogy can work for life, work, or any conflict, difficult situation or relationship. Be a jellyfish, not a tank. You get to choose!

For an excellent podcast on the truth, denial and awareness, see Steve Pavlina’s page. Thanks, everybody.

Related posts: Letting Go and Trusting | Balancing Act


7 thoughts on “Emotional Jellyfish

    Karen said:
    July 16, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    love it… ❤

    Tiffany said:
    July 17, 2010 at 1:20 am

    O my gosh, that was amazing! It’s like you took my emotions and put it into words. I loved every word of this analogy. 🙂

    nicholas said:
    April 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    hi Teresa

    I was googling for images of jellyfish (not that I am emotional or feeling like a tank) and chanced upon your article.

    Interesting thoughts.


    Dean said:
    April 10, 2011 at 6:26 am

    What kind of jellyfish is in the picture?

      Teresa responded:
      April 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

      Sorry, Dean, I’m not sure what kind of jellyfish they are!

    marcus Bolt said:
    June 5, 2011 at 4:48 am

    Hi Teresa
    Could you tell me where you got the jellyfish photo from, or who owns the copyright etc. I’d love to use it on the cover of a book I’m writing.

      Teresa responded:
      July 31, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      Hi Marcus,

      I wish I could tell you where I got the photo! Most (somewhere around 90%) of the photos on my blog are taken by me, but this one isn’t. I just found it on the net, really liked it, and decided to use it. I can look through my collection and see if I have any other photos however. I’ll get back to you directly if I do!

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