It took me a long time to understand why a seemingly innocent remark of mine could trigger off an explosion and a vitriolic reaction in another person that seemed so beyond anything that I had said. We would then spend an inordinate amount of time arguing about the “level of response” rather than what were the real issues.

I have now realized that we all carry an emotional bucket around with us into which we keep dumping all our frustrations, angers and disappointments as we go about our lives. The size of this “bucket” depends on the individual, but few people seem to have developed an effective enough mechanism for emptying it in a regular and safe way so as to keep it at an acceptable level, whether this be through discussing issues with someone close and trustworthy, working with a therapist, or even through physical releases such music, walks in the woods, extensive exercise, or running naked through the vineyards on a full moon.

Many people just keep carrying the bucket around with them until it gets full, and then the next deposit, no matter how small, causes the bucket to overflow. The most common reaction is to immediately empty the bucket by dumping all the frustration and anger on whoever happens be around, and who generally was the creator of this overflow deposit, no matter how small. The result may be some relief as one empties the bucket for the next round of life, but it can create stresses in a relationship that over time become harder to resolve.

I have always believed that if you are looking for unconditional love, you should get a dog, as they will love you no matter what you do. I am sure that if Ted Bundy, a notorious serial killer, had owned a little French poodle it would have just adored him. It just so happens that every other relationship in life, whether it be with your partner, your children, a relative, a friend or a work colleague are all relationships that you have to work at all the time.

My wife once described a relationship as being like a perfect crystal ball at the start. Over time, if we are not careful, every time there is dishonesty or fury or unresolved issues in the relationship, it puts a chip into this crystal ball. After a lot of these, all you are left with is a misshapen piece of glass which has no value at all to anyone, and that is when a relationship can break apart.

It helps a lot if you can develop your own personal way to control not only the size but also the frequency of how you keep your “emotional frustration and anger bucket” as empty as possible at all times. You just need to start by being aware that it exists in all of us.



  1. sacha says:

    Emotional buckets, like regular buckets ,come in all shapes ,sizes and colours …… would it be fair to say ” you get your stars from your scars” ? Admittedly its harder to dump a good friend than a mistress…so why ahere to the customary aresenal of self protection ? A friend , even at a dinner table , should be able to give you emotional mileage……so if someone lets rip at one of my dinner parties with industrial strength adrenaline I approve…its his/her way of going from distress to de-stress and our frinedship might well go into overdrive as a result !

  2. leshayman says:

    Hi Sacha,
    Wow … you must have a tougher hide than me.
    I can understand that someone could hold forth with passion and ” … industrial strength adrenalin …” on a controversial topic at a dinner party, but emptying a personal emotional bucket on someone at a dinner party doesn’t appeal to me at all.
    It would expose parts of a person to me that I would believe may be better kept hidden. Particularly when it is a close relationship, and the “bucket-dumping” should have been done in private.

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