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What was the first straw? An exercise in releasing pressure


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April 16th, 2010, 12:29 PM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: My heart belongs in Washington DC
Posts: 6,415
I'll be quoting some of the book I hate it when Excercise is the answer, including the "Exercise" it has at the end of the chapter, however to get the full effect of the book, you'd have to buy it and read it.

We were undergoing a wellness challenge at work and the goal for the month was to drink a ridiculous amount of water every day. I can’t remember how much it was, I only remember that I felt completely waterlogged and bloated when I tried to do it. So when I was in the store and noticed “Flavored sparkling water” on the shelf, I picked up a bunch of bottles to help me drink my water drinking goal.

Upon reflection and experience, I’ve decided that flavored sparkling water is code for diet soda. It appears to have sweeteners and flavoring ingredients identical to those in diet soda. And, although sparkling water somehow sounds healthier, I’m pretty sure it isn’t. I like it though. It has just one drawback, which I discovered for the first time when I tried it: When that label says sparkling, it’s not kidding. This stuff explodes when you open the bottle like no soft drink I’ve experienced.

I soon learned that the best strategy when opening a new bottle of sparkling water is to screw off the lid just a little, let some of the bubbles out and then screw it back on really quickly before they all come rushing to the top. Several repetitions of that action are generally enough to calm the drink down so it can be opened all the way without incident.

It struck me one day as I was taming a bottle of sparkling water that my life is like that sometimes. There are days when the pressure has built up so tremendously that the slightest thing will trigger a rather messy explosion. Maybe if I could find some ways to “let some of the bubbles out,” I could avoid embarrassing myself and upsetting my family.

I remember one such time when I was apologizing to my children after having blown up at them over some minor infraction. Recognizing from the perplexed look on their faces that they really didn’t know what had hit them (or why), I said to my daughter, “oh honey, it wasn’t really what you guys did, it was just the last straw that’s all.”

She looked at me thoughtfully for a moment and then asked, “Mom, what was the first straw?”

The most important thing I’ve discovered is that I can’t deal with a whole pile of straw or the whole bottleful of bubbles at once. It’s just too much. It explodes. I have to do something to let the pressure out, then a little more and so on until it’s safe to proceed.

Sometimes I just close the door to my office or bedroom and give myself a few seconds for a silent scream. I know it sounds gimmicky, but you might be amazed at how cathartic it can be. Clench your fists, tighten your stomach, open your mouth wide, and just let loose - but don’t let any noise come out. In fact, if you don’t’ bother to retreat to another room and just do this in full sight of the children it will likely make them laugh and then whatever they were fighting about might just dissolve on its own.

Having something pleasant planned at the end of a long day makes getting through the daily grind more bearable. Sometimes I write myself an encouraging little sticky note: “Play tickets tonight!” or “Brownies for desert!” It serves as a nice reminder that life isn’t always as bleak as it seems at the moment. My favorite pressure releasing strategy is just to laugh Watch a funny You-Tube clip. Keep a folder of those silly emails people are always circulating and pull one out for another chuckle.

Exercise #1: Releasing pressure

Take a minute at the beginning of each day to assess what bubbles might be bubbling up in the bottle that is your life. If it looks like the pressure might be high, choose one of the strategies from this chapter (or a different one that works for you) and let off some of those bubbles right now before the whole thing blows up in someone’s face.
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Thank you to the wonderful ladies who mad the blinkies!

"The Lord compensates the faithful for every loss. That which is taken away from those who love the Lord will be added unto them in His own way. While it may not come at the time we desire, the faithful will know that every tear today will eventually be returned a hundredfold with tears of rejoicing and gratitude..... These experiences, while often difficult to bear at the time, are percisely the kinds of experiences that stretch our understanding, build our character and increase our compassion for others."
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