But I'm trying to view them as the opportunities they actually are, and not as the obstacles and frustration they end up feeling like.
A while back, I wrote a post describing my experiences in Tammuz and explaining the astrological effects based on the Kli Yakar:
How to Fight the Crabby Mazal of Tammuz
Later, the Kli Yakar mentions the effect of Av: the Lion.
Lions tend to savage their prey, which is why hatred and other person-to-person sins came to a head with the Destructions of both Temples on the 9th of Av.
And while we don't justify or excuse bad behavior, we can at least find a merit for people if they start acting wonky in Tammuz and Av:
"Oh, they're not innately awful. It's just that they're having a hard time warding off the influence of Tammuz and Av."
And even though the Gemara tells us that astrological effects do not decide a Jew's destiny, the effects are clearly there.
So what's going on?
And what are we supposed to do?
(Hint: The answer to this particular question is partly answered in the link above.)
Dealing with Tammuz
This means that in Tammuz, you need to push yourself harder just to maintain equilibrium.
Picture yourself strolling down a sunlit path with a gentle breeze on your back.
Now picture yourself marching down an overcast path with hurricane-force winds at your face.
You need to brace yourself and push a lot harder to keep going forward, right?
The fun part of it is that when the hurricane-force winds suddenly stop in Elul, all your pushback ends up flinging your forward, spiritually speaking, into the loving arms of Elul.
Elul stands for "Ani L'Dodi V'Dodi Li - I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine."
(The acronym is clearer in Hebrew: אלול - אני לדודי ודודי לי )
Anyway, the same idea holds true for Av.
Dealing with Av
That was in the month of Av whose sign is Aryeh (the Lion) because each person became like a lion who longs to attack his fellow
- Talk to Hashem about your feelings
- Search for a good point in that person and mention it to Hashem
- Pray for that person to do teshuvah from love
- Pray for yourself
- Actively do chessed
- Go out of your way to help others (doesn't matter how small the help is; even letting a car in front of you or not careening toward that ideal parking spot while cursing under your breath when you see another car going for the same spot makes a huge difference, spiritually speaking)
- Go out of your way to speak pleasantly or at least courteously in even the most trying situations.
- Thank God for the situation, knowing that it's from Him and somehow good.
- Whatever else you can think of
By the time Av ends and Elul begins, you'll automatically be in a higher place than you would be otherwise.
Elul is a time that is very welcoming toward and conducive for teshuvah and self-improvement, and sweetening judgements and decrees.
So the very frustrations and challenges of Tammuz and Av are actually the perfect preparation for Elul.
Wishing us all a lot of bracha (blessing) and hatzlacha (success)!