Do you remember playing with a jack-in-the-box? When I was a child it was the go to gift to give to toddlers. You would get the young child to turn the handle on the box and music would play (All around the mulberry bush..) and then when they least expected it, the box would burst open and a clown or jester would pop out. Then the child would either squeal with delight or cry hysterically.
This morning I was thinking about how our life is a little bit like the jack-in-the-box. You and I are pretty good at keeping our inner lives hidden. We know how to put on a great face in almost every situation. But there are situations that affect us much like the turning of the crank on the jack-in-the-box. And often to our great surprise, when we least expect it, out jumps an attitude that seems foreign to us, at least outwardly.
Where did that come from? That’s not me. I am not that way. That was an apparition. I think what is in us comes out of us during stressful times. I find this truth that my attitude reveals the real me – to be quite sobering. And there is no way to manage away that truth. That is why we must never ignore our interior life. We like painting the outside of the house for everyone to see. But we can’t ignore the foundation and structure of the house which is not easily seen but is much more important.
When something really ugly comes out of you don’t ignore it. Don’t try to explain it away. The nastiness came out of you because it was in you. Own it. And then set out to work on changing it. As you grow and mature in life your response to stressful things needs to reflect the deeper more thoughtful person you are becoming. Do the tough interior work. You will be so glad you did.