Sometimes wisdom about how to live a more peaceful and meaningful life comes from dense books, impassioned speeches, acclaimed documentaries or powerful Pinterest quotes.
Today, it’s going to come from a metaphor about an orange.
I was listening to a Podcast from the spiritual guru, Dr. Wayne Dyer the other day and his use of this metaphor really struck me. Luckily, this time, I was not riding my bike while listening, so there was no need jump off my bike to take notes immediately.
The metaphor is a handy one to use when you find yourself blaming other people.
Do you ever find yourself cracking under pressure and fussing/raising your voice/yelling at the people you love most? And if you’re anything like me, it’s never your fault. It’s always theirs.
When you’re running a busy life, it becomes almost instinctual to point fingers at other people for making you angry, upset or annoyed. Your mother makes you mad, your husband irritates you, and your son makes you so incredibly frustrated.
It’s natural. But it’s not rational.
It’s not, technically, the way the world works…as I discussed in this post about how nobody can make you feel anything (at all) without your permission. However, Dr. Dyer’s metaphor on this topic takes things a step forward.
His metaphor begins with a simple question.
When you squeeze an orange, what comes out? Orange juice, of course. No matter how hard you squeeze you will never, ever get grapefruit juice or apple juice out of an orange. Right?!
The reason that orange juice comes out is because orange juice is what’s inside. This might seem obvious in the world of juice, but it’s probably less obvious in your own life.
So, let’s go there.
When anger is inside of you, anger is what comes out. When anxiety, stress, frustration or fear is inside of you, that’s exactly what comes out when you’re poked. Just like it’s impossible for apple juice to come out of an orange, it’s impossible for peace and joy to come out of you when you’re filled with anger and frustration.
This metaphor might help you answer a question I hear from mothers all the time, “Why did I lose my mind and scream at my daughter last night?” The very likely answer is that you were filled with frustration and anger from something else that happened in your day — a botched project at work, bad news about a good friend, having no clue what to make for dinner, etc. You name it; the list is endless.
You were filled with those negative emotions and your child/husband/dog “squeezed you” by doing something out of line, and anger/frustration/stress or anxiety came spewing out like someone took the lid off the commercial-size juicer at Sunday brunch.
What’s inside is what comes out.
And the kicker is to realize that it doesn’t really matter what/whom is squeezing you. If you smash an orange with a hammer, what comes out? Orange juice. If you stab an orange with an ice pick, what comes out? Orange juice. If you put an orange in a vice and squeeze it, what comes out? Orange juice.
The external probe doesn’t matter. This fact is easy to see with oranges but harder to see in our own lives. It’s easy to say you yelled at your son last night because he made you angry, but the truth is that you had anger inside of you and your son happened to squeeze you and anger came out.
If it hadn’t been your son’s inability to clean his plate at 6:00 p.m., it would have been your husband’s inability to take the trash out at 8:00 p.m. or a frustrating email from your mother at 9:00 p.m. No matter who or what squeezes you, what’s inside is what comes out.
My 92-year-old grandfather is the epitome of this phenomenon. He is so filled with peace and joy that there’s absolutely nothing in the world that would anger him. His feathers are incapable of being ruffled because he has nothing but joy inside and therefore nothing but joy to give away.
While we all might strive for that state of nirvana, but getting there is hard. I have that man’s blood running through my veins, yet I couldn’t stop myself from fussing at my husband last night for doing nothing other than trying to talk to me during the finale of The Voice. #charming
But there are baby steps we can all take to bring more peace and joy to our insides.
- Stop blaming other people for your anger or frustration. The traffic jam you got stuck in yesterday didn’t make you angry. You had anger inside of you long before the traffic showed up. The cars at a dead standstill in front of you just squeezed it out of you. The next time you find yourself losing your cool, look at what’s inside of you instead of what’s in front of you.
- Find a way to get your stress or anxiety out before somebody you love pokes you. We all get frustrated, mad and angry on a daily basis. My way of keeping those emotions at bay as often as possible is through meditation and yoga. There’s a direct correlation between the days I meditate for 10 minutes in the morning and the number of times I fuss at the people I love.
Most importantly, the next time you feel like you’re getting squeezed, stop and think about what’s about to come out and why it’s there in the first place. Unlike an orange, multiple things can come out of you.
What a blessing.
Anger is a choice, and fear is a choice, love is a choice and joy is a choice.
I have no idea what’s going to happen with this experiment, but the next time someone I love squeezes me, I’m going to let love and joy pour out in the form of hugs and kisses and see what happens.
Wish me luck.