Doorknobs are funny.  Have you ever looked into one?  Long before computers stole hours of free time and Internet space by providing face-warping apps, doorknobs were doing it up.  Innies.  Outies.  Dodecagons.  It’s like having mini fun-house mirrors right in your very own home.

My friend Dib and I have adopted quite an extensive code language.  Some of it is non-verbal, just a gesture or look.  Some of it is composed of movie lines or song lyrics.  Some is just plain made up.  One such code phrase that we use often is “doorknob face.”  Doorknob face describes a certain perception that can arise at crowded or awkward social functions.  You’ve been corned for an hour by the too-close talker who’s been explaining to you, with great animation and without stopping for breath, about a frog population of Istanbul.  Or it’s past the witching hour and you’re just plumb peopled out.  Usage:

“The party at Ralph’s place was fun at first; but around midnight, everyone started to get doorknob face.”

When describing doorknob face interactions, one must deliver all lines spoken by the other party in a lower and slower voice, somewhere between SpongeBob’s friend Patrick and pulling taffy.

It is also important to note that multiple people displaying doorknob face simultaneously can induce psychosis, and is reasonable grounds for an immediate exit from any event.

When I was a teen, my nose entered a room long before I did.  You know that stage.  The one where certain features decide to jump right into assuming their adult form, while others remain small and childlike.  It makes for an awkward few years.  During that time in my youth, certain key people taunted me about my nose.  In fact, one such person, when feeling that an argument was slipping away, would cut things off sharply with, “Oh, yeah?  Well, at least I don’t have a huge nose!”  It was a little like tossing the chess board when your queen is surrounded.  But, fair or not, it worked.  I really thought that my nose was comparable in size to the remainder of my head.  This odd phenomenon was dubbed “doorknob nose,” and remained in force for many years into my adulthood, when Dib finally convinced me that my nose is, in fact, proportional to the rest of my features.  And perhaps not entirely hideous.

I think feelings can be a lot like doorknobs.

Last night, I had trouble sleeping.  I tossed and turned.  It was something hurtful and judgmental that someone had said earlier in the day, and I just couldn’t shake it.  I applied my usual strategies, which I posted a few days ago, and quickly realized that this wasn’t something I was worrying about exactly.  It was just an “icky” feeling that left me sad and a little less shiny inside.

This sort of feeling is common to all of us, if you think about it.

We feel that someone doesn’t love us.  Or doesn’t love us as much as they used to.  Or as much as they love someone else.

We feel like we don’t have anything interesting to say and would certainly bore people just by opening our mouth.

We feel that reaching out and saying hello to a stranger will likely end in awkwardness and humiliation.

But, like doorknobs, feelings can easily give a distorted perspective of what actually is.

Last night, as I lay unable to sleep, I reminded myself of that.  This is only a feeling, not reality.  It changes nothing.  The reality is that you are safe in your bed, you are living a positive life, and you are loved by many.  Somewhere in the middle of repeating this to myself, I fell asleep.  And today, after some good talks with key people in my life, I’ve gained further perspective that my feelings did not change my reality in the slightest.

Feelings are powerful.  They can loom very large and seem more real than reality itself.  But giving in and acting on feelings can land us in some less-than-desirable situations.  Arguments.  Depression.  Teen pregnancy.  Divorce.  Often, acting on feelings can wind up creating a new reality, one that need not have emerged.

A reliable tip-off that you are being fooled by feelings is that you are talking in extremes:  no one, everyone, never, always, worst.  These are dead giveaways that the doorknob effect is in play.  As I mentioned in Sunday’s post about linking the present with a negative past, ideas like “Why is this is happening to me again?” may also be indicators that emotions are running rampant.

When these times come – and they will – first remind yourself that emotions can lie.  If it helps to use the visual, think of that doorknob.  It’s reflecting something, but that something isn’t always accurate.  Second, a real lifesaver is having a rationale, honest and caring friend or two whom you can run those doorknob feelings by.

Emotions are not an enemy, by any means.  I’m rather a fan of them myself.  They help us convey positive messages and information in meaningful ways.  The key is to find the balance between free expression and letting them have the run of the place.   The goal is not to turn them off or doubt them at every turn.  Rather, it’s a matter of being sure who is controlling whom.

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