This one word describes the constricted space created by cultural and religious ideals that is supposed to house our whole beings. The box wouldn't exist if cultural stereotypes weren't so easy to absorb. We aren't born believing in them; we are taught to believe in them, and it is effortless because they are found everywhere; we literally breathe them in from the atmosphere as we grow up. But these stereotypes are devastating to our relationships because the box they create is too narrow to fit all of our flaws, idiosyncrasies, oddities, and unique abilities. As a result we feel inadequate as human beings and see others as inadequate as well. That is the power of the box, and explains why we are willing to stay, for how do you fit a human in a box without using some pressure or force, and how do you keep a human in the box for a prolonged time? By telling them there is something wrong with them if they aren't happy, for everyone else fits just fine, and by the way, just look how happy they are.
Most of us resent the box, even fight against it because we feel there is more to life than the small space we are forced to inhabit. But although we don't want to be in the box ourselves, we squeeze others in it with remarkable ease without considering what it does to our relationships; and then we wonder why there is so much conflict in our lives. What would happen if we, instead of squeezing ourselves and others into a box, we accepted all the flaws and oddities that make us unique as individuals? What if we celebrated the strange ideas that make sense only to ourselves and a few others? What would it do to our relationships? First of all, it would greatly diminish futile arguments that lead nowhere, for telling someone that there is something fundamentally wrong with their personality is not going to create harmony; it creates hurt feelings and strife. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't expect consideration from others. But telling someone that his/her aspirations or dreams are wrong or silly is not asking for consideration; it is asking the other to become something he or she isn't, and that destroys relationships because it destroys the person's self-worth.
Love has the power to cause us to see others as perfect. Lovers spend hours gushing over the other and there doesn't seem to be enough love poems in the world to describe their feelings. But then something happens. The feeling of love wears off and the flaws that were hidden earlier surface and become clearly visible. It is in this crucial point that we have a choice to make: we can either accept the flaws or force the other person to conform to ideals that will make him or her appear perfect.
We can either choose the person or the box.
The walls of the box are created out of many (often conflicting) parts, and one of them is the man's authority that has been considered the great peacemaker in relationships for centuries. But it has been costly at best and a Pyrrhic victory at its worst, for those who are given power don't ask, they demand, and one of the demands is the change of personality of the powerless to fit the preferences of the powerful. It may seem like the perfect solution, but the facade hides resentment, bitterness, and impotent rage, that not only cripples the person but slowly poisons and kills the whole relationship.
The box is the easy answer to the complex requirements that create a healthy, vibrant relationship built upon mutual trust and respect. But it is the wrong answer, and the wrongness can be measured by the general unhappiness of people who live a stifling and unfulfilled life. So how can we rescue ourselves and those we love from the box? By accepting our uniqueness, even when it goes against the societal norms and standards, even when it invites ridicule and even social ostracism. For the more people escape the box, the more living outside of the box becomes the norm, until we are all free to be who we truly are. And the box becomes once again just a box.