Mental Rain

As much as we’d like to, none of us can control the weather. Kids can pray for their snow-days, farmers can perform rain-dance after rain-dance, and meteorologists can calculate their most precise predictions, but ultimately, just as “boys will be boys,” it seems “weather will be weather.”

Most of us are able to grin and bear this reality, some more easily than others depending on our geographical locations. Regardless, it tends to be at least one aspect of life that we humans recognize as “bigger than us” and something we must learn to work with, rather than against.

And how do we do this? Well, we’ve learned that shelter is necessary for protecting ourselves from the uncontrollable elements, leading us to create garments we can wear, houses we can live in, and even heating/cooling systems designed not only for survival, but for comfort! We’ve adapted our methods of transportation to allow for uninterrupted travel despite otherwise hindering storms, and we’ve even developed weather-specific “tools,” like umbrellas, shovels, sunscreen, snowplows, sunglasses, etc., that help us to keep life moving right along.

Pretty impressive if you think about it--- taking the enormity of something like weather, so feared and intimidating, and still managing to figure out how to “put it in its place.“

We may not be able to control the weather, but we can certainly control our reactions to it.

Now, external weather is one thing, but what about our internal weather? As I often explain to my clients, symptoms of worry, sadness, anger, hurt, etc., are their own thunderstorms, snowstorms, and hurricanes. Quite often, we even use weather/temperature-related terms and comparisons to describe what we’re feeling --- “He gave me the cold shoulder,” “I was on fire with rage,” “It made me so frazzled, like I was swept up in a whirlwind,” “She shivered with fear”---and there seems to be a lot of sense in this.

Much like external weather, our internal weather conditions have the capacity to intimidate us and cause us to feel wildly out of control. Our “mental rain” is often just as (if not more) unpredictable and often poses the threat of mental/emotional flooding. We experience emotional heatwaves, snowstorms of lonely isolation, and gusty winds of overwhelm that seem to sweep us right up off the ground only to drop us again. If only there could be such a thing as IWC (The Internal Weather Channel) to help us at least get somewhat of a grip on the emotional clouds up ahead…

But, another thing I tell my clients is that they don’t necessarily need to foresee, plan for, or dodge their mental rain. Instead, it is often best in many cases (like we do with external weather) to just embrace and work with it whenever it comes around. We can always “gear up” and face whatever we’re feeling with our mental umbrellas (conscious choices to recognize the harshness of life's moments as temporary, letting it bounce off of us and fall away) and with our emotional windbreakers (intentional practices of grounding ourselves in the now and avoiding getting swept away in thoughts of what’s to come).

And sure, we may not have control over when the sun will come out again, or how long it will stay, but nothing can stop us from creating our own sunshine. We always have the ability to watch that favorite TV show that always makes us laugh, visiting that friend who always makes us smile, or listening to that song that always brightens the day. We truly do have the tools to deal with and survive our internal storms, no matter how much bigger than us they may seem.

We have the choice to expend all of our energy trying to find a big enough bucket to capture every raindrop in our lives, or, we can splash through them in our rain-boots, watch them ricochet off our trusty umbrellas, clear them away with our windshield wipers, and just simply allow them to fall.