The kids and I watched an episode of “Henry Hugglemonster” this weekend. In this particular episode, Henry was having a bad day. With the first bad thing that happened he developed a small gray cloud over his head, and with every subsequent bad thing, the cloud got bigger and grayer, until it eventually became an enormous storm cloud raining on him. They called it a “grrr cloud.”
I totally understand the grrr cloud. It completely explains why one of my children will have an outlandish over-reaction at the slightest disappointment—if I say no to another snack or if we don’t have time to go the pool and it sends one of them into a heaping sack of hysterical tears, it probably just means that their grr cloud has been growing all day, and this last disappointment sent them into stormy-rain-cloud territory. It makes sense, right? Have you ever snapped at a co-worker who asked you a question at precisely the wrong moment in time, the moment that your own grrr cloud was teetering on the edge? That poor co-worker didn’t realize they were walking into a storm any more than you meant to react to them the way you did. How great if we could try and remember about the grrr clouds when we accidentally walk into someone else’s, right?
And what of our internal grrr clouds? These clouds are the ones that develop during our middle of the night “I suck”-fests. The ones that develop when we make a mistake at work, when we compare ourselves to others, when we hear ourselves yelling at our kids. I think these clouds are particularly tough because we’re trying to keep it sunny on the outside, when inside it could be storming mightily. These internal grrr clouds can literally cloud things—they can cloud our vision and our thinking. I know when my own internal grrr clouds are raging, all I can see is evidence that I am the Worst. Everything. Ever—everywhere I look I find proof that I am the most horrible employee/mother/wife/friend/daughter/human being that ever walked the planet. And obviously that just adds to my already raging inner storm, which then further clouds my ability to see anything BUT such evidence… and you can see how hard it can be to break free from the storm.
So, how do we get out from under a grrr cloud, whether it’s internal or external? In the show, Henry just had to remember to “turn that growl upside down.” Simple advice, but ultimately probably about the most effective—to get out from the grrr cloud, you have to find something to smile at. You have to look for something positive. You have to turn your attention away from things that are adding to your grrr clouds and toward something else. As the quote goes, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.” We can help each other with that too—we can be more forgiving when we get rained on by someone else’s cloud. We can try and tune in more closely when we suspect someone has an internal storm raging. We can hold out a hand and offer a dance when we hear the grr clouds rumble.
How can you “dance your way through” when the grrr clouds start to rumble?