When Life Hands You Lemons. . .
“When life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Isn’t that how the old saying goes?
You might say we have had our share of lemons this year! It is only April and already the year has been loaded with stress!
Some of what we have been dealing with for the last 4 months:
- Brother-in-law passed away
- Making final arrangements
- Dealing with my husbands extended family
- Extra unexpected expenses
- There’s been an investigation at the University our daughter attends, involving her department
- Dealing with my extended family
It’s hard to say what has been more stressful because all of them have been at the top of the list at one time or another or have alternated between which one is on “fire” today!
Handling the lemons
There are many ways one can handle a lemon.
- Cry- to an unhealthy degree
- Throw a tantrum
- Get angry
- Yell at everyone
- Cause a scene
- Say the first things that come into your mind
- Wallow in the misery of what you are going through
- Don’t talk to anyone/hold it all in
- Make yourself and everyone around you miserable
- With only partial information, make statements, and get involved where you have no business being
Sweeten the lemon
A healthier way to handle the lemons life hands to you is to sweeten it. You can make everyone miserable with you or, you can find constructive ways to handle the challenges.
- Reach out and lean on those you can trust
- Talk about- it can help you get perspective
- Cry- it’s a great emotional release
- Hold on to your faith- it helped me to pray, read scriptures, and study things said by my religious leaders
- Be a problems solver- what can you solve, what do you have control over, what is your responsibility
- Breathe deep
- Be patient- wait for the details to come out or ask more questions/seek for clarification
- Express your concerns/opinion in constructive ways and to the right people
- Find the humor where you can
The lemon is misunderstood
Personally, I think the lemon gets a raw deal! Most people don’t like to eat lemons, and that is probably why people use this wonderful fruit to express something negative. The lemon causes most people to pucker and pull a face when they try to eat it. In fact, most people don’t enjoy eating lemons at all.
What we don’t understand about lemons
- These are times for personal and spiritual growth. They can be character building.
- Through our experiences we learn empathy- everyone goes through something sometime- we show more compassion towards others because of our own trials and difficulties
- Our trials strengthen us in order to handle other difficulties we may face in life
- They help us work through old problems that need healing
- Sometimes they validate former decisions
- Most importantly, they can be a catalyst to making changes for the better, in our lives
The Lemon Plan
So, we know we will have difficulties and things that will try us to our core. What is our plan to handle those trials? We know they are going to come, but we rarely know what they are going to be! Many times they are unexpected and really difficult to work through. How do you stay grounded? What is your fallback position?
- Hold on to my faith with scripture study and other religious materials
- Talk to my husband or someone I can trust
- Write and organize my thoughts
- Find all the information I can about what is happening- so I can move forward with an “educated” perspective (For example, the case at the University. Before writing to the dean, I read all I could about what was happening on campus. My daughter requested I wait to write a letter until the investigation was complete (and I’m glad I did). I was able to write a less emotional based letter and really say what I wanted to say with the right information and not conjecture.)
- Engage with those involved, in a calm manner- if I can’t, I hold off until I can
- Keep functioning and doing the things that need to be done (This can sometimes be hard. I love to work in the yard when I am stressed. Thanks to the crazy weather we have been having; I was able to sneak in some much needed yard time!)
In Defense of the Lemon
When life hands you lemons, sometimes you need more than lemonade. The lemon isn’t necessarily bad, it can be quite enjoyable. It just depends on how we use it. When life gives us lemons we can suck it down and pull faces or we can work on making it sweeter.
Even if you don’t like eating this fruit, there are so many other reasons why the lemon is a great fruit!
- lemon water
- freshens many drinks (water, soft drinks, etc.)
- great on fish
- lemon pie
- lemon chicken
- liver detox
- clean smell
- cleaning agent
- pretty, bright and sunny- great kitchen decor
In other words, we can find something to learn from the experience or something to be grateful for. Being able to find a positive attitude or something good to hold on to helps to make the situation more palatable than if we languish in the mire. It’s amazing how your attitude and perspective affects your experience.
That’s not to say it is going to be easy. Some things will never be easy or fun to go through, no matter how we look at them. There isn’t much I had power to change over the past several months. Believe me there were plenty of tears, anger and frustration, but mixed with the other coping mechanisms I have talked about it has been bearable. We have still been able to laugh and have great moments.
Only a robot could go through difficult, stressful situations and not have emotional reactions of some kind. We struggle to cope and hopefully the next difficulties will go a little more smoothly.
What helps you to stay grounded when things get tough?