I’ve been reading the wonderful ‘Gilead’ by Marilynne Robinson, and I was struck by the contemplations of the narrator : ‘I have always liked the phrase ‘nursing a grudge,’ because many people are tender of their resentments, as of the thing nearest their hearts.’ It brought to mind a metaphor which I use in my therapy room, which goes like this:
Some campers in the woods leave a copper kettle boiling and the noise of the rattling lid attracts an old bear. The bear seizes the kettle and is badly scalded, but instead of letting go of the kettle, he hugs it tightly as this is a bear’s idea of defense. Of course the more the bear hugs it, the more it burns him, and the more it burns him, the tighter he hugs it. This vicious circle continues to the undoing of the bear.
We so often do this, we hold our difficulties close to our hearts, mentally rehearsing them and clinging on to them for dear life. Next time you catch yourself raking over old ground, remember these words, ‘bear hugs kettle’.