It's that time: August. If we aren't lucky, we'll feel as if we're walking through a fever dream again this month as the temperatures heat up and the economy heads back south.
What's your secret fantasy in these dog days of August?
Telling your boss off? Binging on Ben and Jerry's in the secrecy of your (hopefully) air-conditioned bedroom? Cutting off a friend? Filing for divorce? Robbing a bank?
Twenty-eight years ago this month, a couple of guys got so desperate in the August heat in New York that they tried to rob a bank in Brooklyn -- a heist so botched that it ultimately got turned into a movie called Dog Day Afternoon.
So, I hear you! I'm a single, working mom of young twins living in the middle of sweltering New York City with some of the most amazing, high-profile, hilarious and demanding clients you can ever imagine.
In addition to my long career as an energy healer and success coach, I'm also putting the finishing touches on my healing concert album in between prepping my energetic twins for kindergarten this fall. I'm also the author of "Life Shift: Let Go and Live Your Dream."
I also have financial challenges like everyone else. So what keeps me riding on top of the wave and not dragged down by the undertow of the recession?
Two things that help are: not stuffing your feelings and practicing serious, vigilant self-care.
Because I come from the self-help movement, you might think I'd be hyper-focused on only positive outcomes and telling you to chant mantras or affirmations like Norman Vincent Peale. Or maybe something in the vein of Robert H. Schuller's famous line from the Great Depression: "Tough times don't last, but tough people do."
Normally, I'm all about taking the high road. However, the most important first step is the "unstuffing" of your feelings. You must allow yourself to express whatever anxiety, anger or resentment you might have around a situation before you can shift your energy into positive high gear from there.
In my book, I talk about addressing our emotional body as if you were dealing with your own child. If your child is upset, you ask them what they are upset about, you don't negate their feelings. Once you find out the problem, you can offer another solution. Same thing for yourself. This will work wonders in shifting your perspective.
When I issued The Chosen One Challenge on Valentine's Day, I challenged you to spend one year choosing yourself before worrying about whether or not someone else chose you. You can also check out my Chosen One Challenges for March and April.
Choosing yourself is not about learning to be selfish or self-centered. The French writer and philosopher Voltaire once said they key to life is to "cultivate your own garden." Your flowers and vegetables grow when you care for them well. They need water, air, sunshine, nutrients -- and some of them need a lot of space.
Humans needs space too. We especially need space during the dog days of August to unstuff feelings and detoxify emotionally. That will free you up to focus on what's great in your life and what's great about you.
Here is your assignment for the Summer Chosen One Challenge: Focus on how bitter and ungrateful you are about everything. I mean it!
1. Write down at least five things in your life (or in the world for that matter) that you are mad about, disappointed in, at the end of your rope about, etc. It can be fury with yourself, your partner, your kids, your mother, your father, your dog, your cat, President Obama, Lindsay Lohan, the Pope or the Queen of England. It can be anyone or anything. List as many things as you want that you feel bitter and ungrateful about and explain why in a sentence or two.
Let yourself go in this assignment and definitely don't judge yourself or feel guilty at what you're feeling or writing down. Everyone has these feelings -- it doesn't make you a bad person. The more you express yourself in this exercise, the more emotional toxins you'll clear. The less you'll go try to rob a bank and sabotage your life. So, let it rip!
2. Complete your list and then spend a few minutes with it. Look at it and ask yourself, what am I afraid of? Be honest. Write down your fears and insecurities next to each points on your list. This might be the first time that you have allowed yourself to express what you are really feeling, underneath all the anger and frustration.
Anger is always a secondary emotion, covering up fear. Be brave and get to the heart of the matter! What are you really afraid of? The sooner you are honest with what you are feeling now, the sooner you can 'shift it.'
3. THE SHIFT: Read your list of fears. Spend time with this. Then ask yourself, if you weren't afraid and insecure, what would steps would you take to overcome the obstacles? Write down each solution. You will be amazed at how quickly your mind and emotions will start to realign with creative possibilities!
The highest number of millionaires came out of the great depression, because they were forced to think creatively. And this can be true for any of the obstacles and meltdowns you are facing during these Dog Days of August.
Congratulations, once you've done this, you've pulled the weeds out of your own garden, and shifted the soil for a luscious harvest.
Voltaire would approve.
I'll be back to focus on gratitude in the fall with the next Chosen One Challenge.
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