Unlocking Clear Skies on Cloudy Days Part 2

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landscape photography of clouds

In our last post we looked at the first two parts of executing a Blue-Sky Paradigm – Determining what the particular cloud is and then moving to gain a new perspective.

Today we look at the remaining three practices of the Blue-Sky Paradigm. Let’s get started.

Make it RAIN. Sometimes your thoughts, feelings, and mood can be especially challenging to deal with. And when it’s more than you can bear, you might want to pour down a heavy rain of judgment on your problems to drown them out. But how can we do that productively?

Well, it turns out that studies by Harvard researchers Shelly Carson, Wendy Berry Mendes, and Modupe Akinola, have shown that anger and sadness can actually deliver us into highly creative spaces. Much of this data is recorded in Gerald Amada’s book The Power of Negative Thinking.

These scientists have discovered that sadness and anger can be catalysts to really creative thinking. They’ve found that while a mood of positivity frequently brings a wide array of creative ideas, many of them tend to be rather shallow and not practical. On the other hand, a mood of negativity emboldens deeply thoughtful innovative ideas that are more effective overall.

Have you ever noticed how some of the best songs are about heartbreak or revenge? It’s no coincidence that the negative feelings borne out of sadness, anger, and depression can create magical musical output. And the same goes for everyday negative thinking…if you do it correctly.

So how do we put our negative moods to work for us? We’re going to use the acronym RAIN.

R – Recognize that you are angry, sad, or even depressed. Try to pin a specific emotion to it, like regret, frustration, disappointment, guilt, remorse. Whatever it is, try to specifically name it so you can more effectively tame it.

A – Allow yourself the freedom to feel the anger, annoyance, remorse, or exasperation without guilt or judgment. Just let it be what it is in this moment. This is the pause you need to reclaim you power and the capacity to move forward.

I – Investigate what you really need right now. Or what you really want to accomplish in the next 10-30 minutes. You may find that you need love, safety, companionship, encouragement, or a swift kick in the rear. Whatever it is, investigate what you’re feeling so you can determine what you need or need to do next.

N – Navigate your way forward with your newfound ideas based on what you’ve determined you need to do next. Use your negative energy to build the action steps to meet your goal. The idea here is to convert the negative into creative, constructive outcomes. Realize this energy won’t be around for very long. And that’s because you’re moving forward, not stewing in a vicious downward cycle.

But use this strong negative energy to your advantage while you still have it.

As your curiosity and interest in solution-finding grows, you’ll be moving into a more positive state and your energy will shift. That’s ok because that is when you’ll use this newly-developed anabolic energy to keep yourself motivated and move with greater flexibility if, or more likely when, other challenges arise.

Get in the shade. So far we’ve been looking at clouds as darkening, threatening, and sometimes potentially destructive. But clouds can also offer protection with the shade they provide. So, while you may be raining down on your problems, you also want to use your clouds to provide protective shade for the values you hold dear and the boundaries you defend. What do I mean by this? Well, sometimes things happen, and we feel like we’ve been let down, forgotten, or disrespected and we take an emotional hit for it. Say, for instance, you have an appointment set this afternoon with a potential new client, and they cancel at the last minute.

That can be terrifically frustrating for sure. You were looking forward to building a new relationship which hopefully would turn into future revenue, and now you’ve lost that opportunity. Additionally, you feel like you must have done something wrong, because why would someone bail on you at the last minute. You could see how you might easily find yourself walking into a very cloudy day.

But what can those clouds offer you?

They can provide the shade and protection you need right now. But only if you use them the right way. Here are two ways to make the best out of this dismal state.

  1. If you’re feeling hot with anger, shame, disrespect, or disappointment, use the clouds to protect you from that heat. Don’t sit in the sun and bake in it. You’ll just get burned. Take a walk and take cover to a cool shady space and willfully accept that change is inevitable and sometimes it doesn’t seem to go your way.
  2. Now that you’ve acknowledged the reality of unforeseen change, use the clouds to provide some shade on your calendar. You’ve already blocked the time, work it! You know how you’re always saying, “There’s never enough time in the day!” Well, guess what? You just added the elusive 25th hour!

But don’t wait until it happens to you live, take time now to figure out what you’re going to do when things blow up.

When a client stands you up, what opportunities unfold for the next hour? Spend the next thirty minutes calling new prospects? Tune up your website? Follow up with recent networking connections? Think about what you can accomplish in this 25th hour. Don’t waste it. Do something smart with it!

Alright, we are about to unlock the last shortcut to the Blue-Sky Paradigm.

Blow the clouds away. Sometimes we can’t physically move to a new space or go for a walk to clear our heads, or rain all over everyone and everything in sight. In these cases, we need to take a moment to breathe. Yes, I know, I know, you’re already breathing. But this is a purposeful and particular type of breathing.

When we are experiencing really challenging moods or moments, our breath can literally save our lives. We just need to direct it in a way that serves far more than just a mechanism to supply oxygen. We need to regulate our breath to induce a calming, restorative chemical rush.

So how do we do that?

Well, there are numerous methods to calm ourselves through breathing – the box breath, the belly breath, lion’s breath, and so many more. All work great, but today we’re going to practice a different breath.

I call it the 10 Foot Candle Breath. You’ll understand why once you do it.

Start by standing tall and lifting your rib cage upward and a little bit outward (kinda like a soldier). Next, take a good strong inhale to fill your lungs, your belly, and even your sides and back if you can. It takes a bit of practice, but getting that air into those tight and rarely-used spaces really makes a difference in your use of core muscle groups and your attitude. To make this easier and more effective, put your hands on your hips like a superhero pose, and then inhale as deeply and fully as you can.

You do this because when you fill the sides of your rib cage and your back, you create a larger, wider space making you feel (and look) bigger and stronger. This will be used to your advantage because you are about to create some gale force winds to blow those clouds away.

Once you’ve taken a big torso-filling inhale, hold a moment, then lift your head upward, close your lips in a circle like you are blowing out ten-foot candle, and blow those clouds away with a long, strong exhale. Really get all that air out of your lungs. Totally empty your chest, ribs, back, and belly. Do this two more times or until you feel you’ve cleared some space for yourself or you’ve blown all those clouds away. Feel free to visualize your breath clearing it all away to reveal a bright, blue sky.

So, there you have the Blue-Sky Paradigm.

  • Determine what shape the cloud is
  • Move to gain a new perspective
  • Let it RAIN
  • Get in the shade
  • Blow the clouds away

Know that the thoughts and feelings that stress you out or bring you down are just clouds passing by. They are impermanent. Keep breathing those big, bold inhales and extra-long exhales until things become a bit more tolerable, controllable, and understandable.

Know that you have the power to conquer any force that comes your way. Believe that you are the canvas for those thoughts and feelings, and you can wipe it clean whenever you want to. You always have the ability to let it RAIN, get in the shade, and then blow all the clouds away to begin again with a big, blue clear-skies vision.

Your Mindful Moment:

Clouds roll in, and clouds roll by. But you, my friend. You are the sky!

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