Create a Bigger Container. ~ Greer Van Dyck

Via elephant journal
on Dec 30, 2011
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So much of my coursework in my Masters program, in the past has been about “creating a bigger container.”

To further bring readers out of the dark on that statement, the theory behind the concept is that we control so much of the time our emotional state. We have the ability to welcome emotion or turn it away.

My classes really emphasized the importance of recognizing emotions that surface and not just acknowledge that they are there, but really embrace them. But why in the world would I want to embrace anxiety or fear? Why would I want to welcome those painful experiences? Well, here is the reason why…we as a culture have put these “negative” emotions on a throne of sorts because we are so afraid of them. We give them a power that they don’t even necessarily have or deserve.

And so creating a bigger container is an opportunity for people to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. For a few months during nursing school, I experienced anxieties that were all but unbearable. I went through so many days of worry, fear of the future, sleepless nights, and saw that both my mind and body were suffering greatly. Only on retrospect though was I able to appreciate that so much of the reason these anxieties were so “unbearable” was because I was more afraid of them than anything. They were unfamiliar to me. And so in an attempt to be relieved, I tried to run away from them and eliminate them from my life. Whether it be through taking benadryl to help me sleep, or drinking to really become numbed to life in general, these temporary fixes didn’t provide me any solace.

So creating a bigger container is an emotional process. It is something that I wish I could have known to do as I was experiencing pain and unrest. For example, in my case it would take the form of me feeling the anxiety. And upon recognition that I was feeling the anxiety, instead of running from it and fearing it, I welcome it. I allow it to reside in this body with me and I am almost welcoming of its company. The moment I do that, the anxiety isn’t as much of a demon but more neutral. Once I allow the anxiety to be there with me and I create a larger space for the anxiety, its veracity weakens. This process isn’t complicated.

Creating a larger container allows us to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Once I was able to see the anxiety as something other than an enemy, I suddenly had more power than I realized. And the anxiety was given a chance to come and pass through.



Greer Van Dyck, M.A. appreciates the quiet of the early morning hours.  Proudly representing herself as a “realistic optimist,” she thrives on challenging herself in the workplace and on the playing field.  She works for a startup company called TherapySites, who specializes in providing web based solutions for mental health care practitioners and gets geeked out over riding her single speed mountain bike.  The work keeps her stimulated and always tests her creative edge and business savvy.
She references the words of Kahlil Gibran often and appreciates the wisdom of his words.  One of her favorite quotes “Work is love made visible.  And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”    Game on. Providing therapeutic services in and around Boulder, CO. Please feel free to call at 706-714-6500 or email at [email protected]


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2 Responses to “Create a Bigger Container. ~ Greer Van Dyck”

  1. Tanya Lee Markul says:

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  2. Joe Sparks says:

    The presence of painful emotion will greatly magnify pain. Fear of pain, for example, acts like a huge lens ampliflying the apparent pain enormously. Pain that is completely unbearable with the fears present, will, after the fear is felt, seem like a minor thing.
    Any young person would recover from such distress spontaneously by use of the natural process of emotional discharge ( crying, trembling, raging, laughing, etc). However, this natural process is usually interfered with by well-meaning people ( "Don't cry," "Be a big boy," etc,) who erroneously equate the emotional discharge ( the healing of the hurt) with the hurt itself.