The story of Pandora’s box stems from Greek mythology and is widely used as a metaphor for ‘putting a lid’ on things and – more specifically – keeping our emotions tucked away ‘safely’.
How many times have you heard yourself saying: “Don’t even go there” or “I’d rather not think about it”? Because who knows what would jump out of the box?
Fact of the matter is that most people are terrified of their emotions.
I used to think that it was too intimidating and too overwhelming to even begin looking at what was hidden underneath layer upon layer of armour. ‘Time heals’ felt like cliché bullshit. Instead, each year that passed seemed to magnify any painful memory and I had reasons to be furious at everything and everyone.
the story of three gods
The story of Pandora’s Box starts with two brothers, Epimetheus and Prometheus. These generous Gods decide to give mankind the element of fire without asking Zeus’ permission first. The supreme ruler is furious when he finds out about it, as he now believes that people have an unfair advantage that actually belongs to the Gods only and he is upset because the brothers didn’t include him in their decision making.
As punishment, Zeus chains Prometheus to a mountain. In addition, he also creates a beautiful, curious and deceitful woman, Pandora, who he sends to Epimetheus (who clearly got a better deal than his brother).
Pandora carries a magnificent locked box with a golden key that she promises never to open. But as you can imagine, curiosity eventually gets the best of her and she gives in to the temptation. Zeus has hidden deceit, jealousy, hatred, war and despair inside the box, which Pandora unknowingly releases back into the world and onto the people before the lid slams shut.
The situation is hopeless and misfortune spreads throughout the world like wildfire.
The young bride is riddled with guilt and her anguish is overwhelming. She knowingly disobeyed Zeus and, consequently, caused insurmountable pain to the people on Earth.
Not knowing what to do, Pandora is once more drawn to the comforting presence of the box and she feels strangely hopeful.
Suddenly she knows in her heart that things will be different this time around and so she opens the box again. The spirit of hope flows out like fairy dust and it restores people’s faith, encouraging them to rebuild what had previously been lost.
The world resumes to prosper and flourish.
The moral of the story
Pandora’s box serves as a symbol for our curiosity and for what it may unlock, initially suggesting that we might be better off not knowing what’s inside. And this misconception lies right at the heart of human behaviour, especially when it comes to emotions. We’re taught to ‘bottle things up’, but never ever to ‘let the genie out of the bottle’. And therefore, many of us walk around ready to burst any second without understanding why life seems to be inhumanly tough and hopeless.
Instead we could simply learn to acknowledging that emotions are a natural part of life. They come and go: both the light and the loving, and the tough, dark ones.
I’ve learned that letting go is much like any detox. The first part is uncomfortable and confusing and it might leave you feeling like you’re wallowing in darkness with a festering wound. Eventually, the wound has been cleared and starts to heal, served with a big scoop of hope and a side of ease.
It’s only when you get in touch with your own emotions, feel them and manage to label them correctly that you can begin to understand where another person is coming from and what their experience might be like.
You don’t have to walk a thousand miles in somebody’s shoes to grasp their perspective.
It’s much quicker than that. Learn to understand what they’re feeling and as a result, you’ll be catapulted into a common ground, where compassion and connection replaces resentment and isolation.