We have a few bottles and sippy cups in our house that leak. You know the type. If not, let me re-familiarize you…

  • There’s the bottle with the slow, but steady drip, drip, drip. It doesn’t start out as a huge spill, but given time and left unattended, there’s soon a big puddle of milk on the floor.
  • Then there’s the sippy cup that’s been gnawed on as if it’s a dog’s chew toy. The spout is basically a nubbin. When that thing tips over, it’s no-holds-barred, full-fledged mess in seconds. Within a few moments, the cup is empty and you have 3/4 cup of apple juice seeping into your carpet.
  • Don’t forget about the sprayer. This is the bottle that when tipped to the side shoots out a steady stream of milk, spraying anything and everything in its path. (And let me tell ya, that old rancid milk smell….not so easy to get rid of.)
  • There are of course, the cups and bottles that work just as they should, with no leaks, spills, or accidents. Of course, this type of cup is rare, and few and far between.

Its the same way with us and our emotions. For many of us, when we’ve been knocked down (by someone else, or most often, by ourselves) we begin to let all of our emotions that have been bottled up start to spill out. We just can’t keep our negative emotions inside….they come out and start affecting whatever is around us.

There are four kinds of people. Let’s see which one you are…

The Dripper –

Drippers seem pretty innocuous from afar. They let their emotions out slowly. The anger, frustration, and bitterness come out in small doses. Irritated sighs, muttering under bated breath, the occasional slam of a cupboard door, a dirty look….all warning signs of a dripper. A dripper would never get in someone’s face, start drama, or be overtly rude. Nevertheless, a dripper can be manipulative and calculating….as they slowly release their anger in seemingly small “manageable” ways. (But let’s be honest here….the whole “cup” WILL empty…it’s just a matter of time.)

The Spewer-

Spewers let it all out in one explosive emotional outburst. A spewer cannot temper their anger, and “lets it all hang out” at the slightest disruption. Screaming, tantrums (you better believe adults have them too), rage….all right at home with a spewer. A spewer is set off and GOES. POW. I’m angry and I’m going to let you know about it NOW. The anger may not be directed at any one person or issue….it just comes out, regardless. A spewer’s angry bout is fairly quick, and may be confusing to others, as they can be fine 10 minutes later. The anger just has to come out..right now…all at once.

The Sprayer-

Sprayers target their anger. While  their anger can be explosive and instantaneous like a spewer, a sprayer seeks to hit a target. A spewer wants to hurt. Not only does their anger come bursting out, it hits something.It doesn’t usually matter if the target of the anger is the cause of whatever set the sprayer off, as the sprayer will simply choose to hurt whoever is around. Name calling, put-downs, sarcasm, passive-aggressive behaviors, and physical aggression are all weapons of a sprayer.

The Drinker-

A drinker is a rare find. You see, moms don’t go around filling up cups and bottles to be spilled. The liquid inside the cup is meant to nourish, providing nutrients to promote growth and good health. The liquid is meant to be released eventually, after it has been digested. It’s the same way with our emotions and anger. Emotions are indeed meant to be released. However, we need to work through them the healthy way, allowing the full range of the human experience (pain, sadness, and hurt included) to nourish us….teach us…help us grow. Drinkers digest their emotions. They work through them, using thought, prayer, meditation, self-discipline, etc. With a clear head, they are able to control their emotions, not allowing their cup of anger to “spill” when knocked down. They still get knocked over, but unlike the other cups, their emotions stay inside. They may get jostled around, stirred up, and a bit “frothy” if you will, but they remain checked.

So which cup are you? When life knocks you on your side or tilts you upside-down, how do you respond? How do you manage your anger? If you’re not a drinker (very few are), become aware of your M.O. When you feel a blow coming, recognize it, and claim control of your response.

Remember that each time we “spill” our anger and negativity affects those around us. Just like an old rancid milk spill, the effects of an angry outburst can last, and be incredibly difficult to cover up. Our anger when spilled out, doesn’t just prevent us from gaining wisdom, patience, and spiritual nourishment (all which help us grow as a person!), it affects everyone around us. It changes lives….and not in a good way.

You WILL get knocked down. You’ll be tipped on your side, “thrown” across the room, and shaken for all you’re worth. It’s the way of the world. The question is, in that moment, which cup will you choose to be?