Many of us fell in love last fall. Tuesday nights became This Is Us nights as a tidal wave of female emotion followed the story of triplets told from childhood and adult perspectives at the same time. A broken family with a dark secret held our attention tight. Now season 2 is upon us, and we have fallen in love with these characters.
Tears flowed every week as these characters struggled and fought with each other. It was very different TV from other family shows. I don’t know about you, but my family wasn’t like this and yet there is a strange familiarity that I can’t resist. As you watch tonight’s season premiere see if you can relate to the pain you might share with the characters,
It used to hurt my feelings when I watched shows like this. I would think things like:
I don’t have a family like this.
My brothers don’t care for me like these brothers do.
My parents never acted like this.
I never had my dad say something like that.
My sister wouldn’t drop everything and come to my aid.
No families are like this.
Poor me. Poor me. Poor me.
Back in those days, I actually had a physical pain in my chest and belly that ached when I felt the rage and disappointment of my own growing up years. For the longest time it felt like if I forgave my dad, it would condone all he did.
That false idea controlled my life until I was in my 30s. (Here is how the Universe made it possible for me to move on once and for all: You can’t rewrite your past, or can you?)
Thirty some years, a long parade of self help gurus, 1000s of books and a million prayers later,I sit watching This Is Us, crying my eyes out but this time, it is different. Years ago when I was the container for all the disappointments of my past, I wept in pain. Hot, searing tears and tons of “boohoo” energy, wailing and that sort of thing.
These days when I cry, tears run down my face but there is not a lot of added drama. I sense deep emotion in me as the tears flow. Watching This Is Us, I still think, “It sure would be nice to have a family like this.” When I cry, I love the tears. I love that I am doing so well in spite of a tough start. I am overwhelmed when I think of the interesting and complicated people I have met on the way who have been like family to me.
When This Is Us is on, I welcome my tears. Tears are a HUGE part of healing, there is plenty of science to back that up! Dr. Judith Orloff writes in her book Emotional Freedom, “Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration. It feels cleansing, a way to purge pent up emotions so they don’t lodge in my body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain. To stay healthy and release stress, I encourage my patients to cry. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity.”
What I am learning from This Is Us is that there is a way to release emotion without suffering by welcoming my emotion and coming into emotional harmony with the ebbs and flows of the drama unfolding on TV. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could relieve your own inner struggles in the same way?
That is what the This Is Us Experiment is all about. Even if you are a big fan of the show and have already seen every episode, give this a try, see if you can feel your emotional energy move in a new way following the steps of this experiment. And without any further ado,
The This Is Us Experiment
Equipment and Materials Needed: Journal or writing paper, pencils, crayons or markers, a glass of water and nbc.com/this-is-us (so you can easily access past episodes)
1. 30 minutes before you watch the episode, review the first part of this post where I wrote the “truth” about my family compared to the family on the program. Write 10 statements that are “proof” of how your family is different from the televised family. You may use my statements if you wish.
2. As you read through the list of sad but true realities, rank each one on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of intensity. Which of these story lines make you feel worse?
3. Now that you have a nice soup of sad sorriness, spend a little time simply pondering it. How long have you been singing the blues about some of these storylines? Do you need them? Do you want them shadowing your life anymore?
4. Next watch an episode of This is Us. Set a clear intention to “piggy back” your own kooky and crazy and yes, painful, family history onto the drama on the screen. As you watch, let yourself have your full emotions. Cry when the urge strikes you. Hold the knowing that the connection to the characters is more than a happy accident. Use this time to comfort yourself.
5. When the show is over. Take several deep breaths. Allow your emotions to settle and congratulate yourself for releasing any useless old storylines that just don’t sit well with you anymore.
Lastly, finish the experiment by writing this on a post it note and sticking it to your bathroom mirror:
Even though I have had countless disappointments with family members, I have met the most wonderful people throughout my life that have actually become closer than family. I choose to appreciate each of those people for bringing family to me.
If you are a tapper, tap around the points as you repeat that story several times. Here is How To Tap It is true isn’t it. There are several people who have stepped into your life at pivotal moments who were closer than a brother. Who knows why you feel so disconnected, right? All that matters is that you choose now to tell your story a new way. Be your own This is Us.
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