Emotional Soup

by Caroline van Kimmenade

We’ve got a lot of strange ideas about emotions in the Western world. First of all, we are taught to claim everything we feel as “ours”.

When we go shopping, we carry a bag and pick up a can of soup (or something else) and push a shopping cart with groceries in front of us. And we never claim to be any of these things. But when we enter a room with lots of people, and we suddenly are happy/sad/angry/confused even if we were something else before we entered, then we still believe to be these feelings and tend to not think twice about it.

Yet, isn’t it conceivable that we actually have and carry happiness/ sadness/ anger/ confusion as easily as we do soup? Just because I carry a can of soup, doesn’t make me a can of soup, does it? So how come it’s all different when it comes to emotions?


The obvious difference would be that emotions are on the inside while cans of soup are on the outside (and have croutons). But is that true? (Some have meatballs.) We show emotion in our faces, posture, movement, actions…we just don’t lug it around in grocery bags. But I’m pretty sure we can give emotions to others all the same.

(Ever see a person who seemed to push a huge cart of depression-soup in front of them? Or who was loaded with grief?)

The point is if you hold the culturally sane perspective that people are their emotions, then that leaves very few possibilities for people to decide what to do with those emotions. Chances are, if you feel down you’ll conceive of yourself as a person who simply is down. It becomes a part of who you believe you are.

If you can see any emotion as a can of soup, you’ve got lots of choices. You could open the can and drink the soup, cook the soup, give it away, put it in a cupboard, read the label, take it back to the store. There is no need to say: “I am tomato soup”. You might seem to be, for a while. For a while, all you might eat is tomato soup. And then one day, you eat something else, and it tastes good. For most people that would not constitute an identity crisis. It’s just soup, after all.





ss2ss2 extended sidebar betterfontNow that you’re at the cashier’s and about ready to leave the supermarket, here’s that little shelf of stuff just before the check-out register. In this case, magazines! Read more on this topic, or take a look at the empath course… so that you can return all that soup to the rightful owner, instead of lugging it around in your own cart. You can also saunter on and continue down below of course!


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1 Kimmy August 30, 2011

Brilliant! I know when I was going through my teen years, and my parents tried to get me "help", the doctors and therapists trained me at 14, that I had to suffer through those emotions in order to "live" in the "now" and move on. I spent over two decades living like that. Feeling every emotion, not fully realizing that not every emotion I had was even mine! I spent the last few years building different "shields" for people, work, family. Only very recently did I realize I didn't "own" others feelings anyway.

2 Caroline van Kimmenade August 30, 2011

Kimmy yes,

I'm hoping others can be spared the self-torture of going through that kind of therapy. I also had to learn the hard way. Even in spiritual circles, this tends to be little-known and I expect many people are suffering emotional pain that isn't theirs.

3 Andy February 4, 2014

Wow. What an amazing metaphor. And so very very true! I just stumbled upon your website, Caroline – loving it! The emotional soup reminds me of my susceptibility to soaking in tension and animosity in a room, which can lead to a bit of a downer. People have expectations of other peoples’ moods – it’s why people might have very different experiences of me. With some people I’m free, fun-loving, and able to relax and laugh. With others I feel down and become quiet and dull. To each of those people I AM that thing. I’m free, fun-loving and relaxed. OR I’m quiet, dull and a bit of a downer. And it’s the same the other way round. But it’s rare that we stop to think about how we are temporarily affecting the mood of the other person, especially if it is the norm for their behaviour around us.

Thanks for making me think!

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