The Monsoons in Life

It’s the monsoon season here in Phoenix. People are often surprised that we have one. I know I was when I moved here. I always thought monsoons were for exotic places like Vietnam or India, not the Wild West!

Last night was fierce– winds that bent trees into dangerous angles, dramatic
lightning with booming thunder, and a downpour of such intensity, you could hear people shout with angry surprise as they ran from cars to shelter.

As I watched out my window, it occurred to me that our lives can be like that. When we get hit with a stressful situation, it can cause us to shout with angry surprise. Some of us shout so others can hear us, usually in the form of complaining. I fall into the category of those who have internal temper tantrums. Mine feel so intense that I’m certain my ugly mood must be glaringly obvious to those around me, although I’m told it’s usually not. (Oh, sure, NOW my acting skills show up. Where were they during that embarrassing High School play?!?)

No matter how the anger shows up for you, I’ve learned it’s important to get it out so you can let go of it. When we voice complaints or rage internally, all that does is make it worse. The Law of Attraction says, “You get what you focus on.” Another version is, “You get what you resist.” When you are actively trying NOT to feel something, your entire focus is on it and it grows bigger and bigger.

Years ago, Robin Williams had a hit television show called Mork & Mindy in which he played an alien living on Earth, married to Mindy. During one episode, Mindy let her curiosity get the best of her and made the mistake of opening a box that belonged to Mork. The box contained Mork’s negative emotions. As he was fiercely trying to wrestle the lid back onto the box, the emotions were flying out and hitting him. I remember the episode vividly because Williams’ performance was brilliant. In the space of minutes, he frantically acted out fear, sadness, paranoia, aggression, grief, and terror. The battle between him and the lid of the box was fierce but he finally got it back on (bringing new clarity to the phrase, “Keep a lid on it!”)

That’s what happens when you’re trying to operate on top of negative feelings. The more you wrestle with them, the more they grab hold of you.

So how do we get them out without hurting ourselves or others? It’s different for everyone. If you look back on your life, you’ll be able to find clues as to what usually works for you. If your mother is still alive, ask her. She can probably tell you how the dam broke when you were a child. Here are some ways to purge those feelings that are causing you stress:

· Write it all down, then burn it. And don’t be a nice person while you’re writing. You’re going to burn it (or flush it or shred it) so get it all out – what a jerk so-and-so is being, how you’re sick to death of it all, etc., etc. Writing is a very powerful access tool into your subconscious. You are likely to find out what’s truly bothering you, which is sometimes very far afield from what you think.

· Breathe deeply. I mean REALLY deeply. There’s a reason that deep breathing is used in natural childbirth. It works! While you’re doing deep breathing, consciously focus on what’s good about your life as you inhale, and consciously focus on releasing the ugly stuff as you exhale. The benefit of using this tool is that you can do it many times during the day.

· Have a good cry. When I was a stressed-out teenager (redundant, I know), I would deliberately go to sad movies so I could let it all out. This method still works. Science tells us that crying cleans out the toxins in your body that are a reaction to stress.

· Exercise until you’re drenched in sweat. Just as with tears, sweat carries the toxins out of your body. (Just the thought of exercising makes many people cry so maybe you can do both and achieve one heck of a good cleansing!)

· Pray. My favorite is The Serenity Prayer:

…please grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference!

More than anything, remember that Monsoons always pass and whatever mess they leave behind, can always be cleared away in time.

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