The Pieta – A Symbol of Outsourced Emotional Stress?

Eastertime makes me think of the Pietas, Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peters Cathedral in Rome, being the most exquisite one of them all. Look at their faces! See how, even if he sacrificed his life she, the mother, accepted and just loved him. Silently just loved. I wonder how many of his emotions, his frustrations and fears she carried. How much did he nurture on the motherly love?


The symbol for motherly care and love, is unconditional, love no matter what, an “always love”. Jesus is laying in her lap as he did as a baby, the same position, the same love, the same care, the same huge responsibility. Looking at Pietas, these most beautiful pieces of art, it struck me how we, both men and women, sometimes sacrifice our own health in order to love unconditionally. As I wrote yesterday, traditionally women carry not only the responsibility of the physical health of the family, but also the emotional health; for the father and husband, for sons and daughters, for grandparents and parents. Some go from the mother love to the partner love. Think about it! How many couples do you know where one of them carries the other emotionally?

Is it healthy to carry the emotional stress of someone else? Is it healthy to outsource it? Probably not for any longer period. Not to carry, nor to outsource either. Just as it is not healthy to outsource the physical health, it’s not healthy to outsource the emotional health. To bring ones frustration from work home, and let your partner hear all that you really wanted to say at work, is emotional outsourcing. If you didn’t really want to say it at work, why bring the negativity home and dump it on your family or friends? If it wasn’t worth saying to the person that could change the problem for you, say your boss, why say it to the ones that can’t change your problem? If it is just to unload the frustration, fair enough, but tell the listeners so, freeing them from carrying your emotional burden. To bring home the frustration of what is wrong in this world we have created, and repeatedly express it, years after years, and not do anything to change it, is to outsource our emotional health. We all did it, and do it. All of us! In some cultures we are even expected to say negative things, not joyful things or we will be received with a weird look.

pieta movie

This modern Pieta, representing an award winning Korean movie, is about a mother that struggles with her sons problems.

One of our OO7 principals is; “Action is the solution”. What can be more loving than helping and supporting the loved one to act on a feeling that makes him/her frustrated? The feelings are just signals from our emotional us to change something, just like hunger tells us we should eat, or pain tells us we should relax. If a frustration persists, the only way to get rid of it is to change the cause, or change the perception of the cause. That’s mind detoxing. If you can’t change your job, love it. If you can’t change your annoying brother, love him. If you can’t get a divorce, love your marriage. To do something about what frustrates us is healthy. To live in chronic frustration is unhealthy.

More often, the cause is also the solution. When we help someone to achieve what they really want, not what we want them to do, but what they want to do, we are loving with action. That is healthy for both them and us.


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