It was a morning from you-know-where. We all got up as usual. It was a mad dash to get all three kids ready for school, my husband and I ready for our day, and everyone out the door on time.
About thirty minutes after they left, I discovered our 12-year old forgot his math book and assignment at home. That would have been the perfect opportunity to allow natural consequences to do their work. However, this is an area our son has really been working hard on so I decided I would take the book to school after my client call.
You’ve got to be kidding…
I got off my call, hopped in the car and drove to school. Not so bad, so far. Drove home (I have a home office) and realized I was locked out of the house. Really? My house key was inside. I was outside. Called my husband. “Where’s the spare key?” I ask. He didn’t know. I. Looked. Everywhere. It had been so long since we’d had to use the spare key I think it got swallowed up in our garage from you-know-where.
Feeling really irritated at this point, I hop back in the car and drive all the way downtown to pick up my husband’s house key. Ok. I can get on with my life. Lest we miss an opportunity to add even more drama to my day…
I used to work downtown… fifteen years ago. I don’t go downtown very often anymore. You know how there’s three lanes and if you’re in the right lane you can get on the highway, but if you’re in the left two lanes, you’re headed back downtown? Yeah. I was in the left lane. I was going to go back downtown. Ahh!
They’ll do this for me… won’t they?
Surely, these nice people in the right lane will let me over. I nudge the front of my car out, just a little, and put my right turn signal on. Surely they’ll see that I need to get over. I look over to the right lane, hopefully, trying to make eye contact with the car next to me. Nope.
The light turns green and I inch out a little but all the cars in the right lane quickly move forward toward the highway without a nod or glance in my direction. That’s when I lost it! Every little thing that happened that morning; every repressed emotion; every fiber of my being erupted like Mt. St. Helens in all its glory.
I released a string of expletives so loud they should have been able to hear me in the next county. That’s so not like me. Thank goodness the windows were shut. I can’t even imagine the animated display of my facial features for anyone passing by (if they even paid any attention).
Ok, get it together…
Instantly, I felt remorse. “Wow, Julie. That’s not how you’re supposed to be. Get it together.” Deep breath. I then remembered the words of a respected professional I know. I was telling her about another situation I was struggling with. She said, “What is the most generous story you can think of about this person in that moment?” And she wondered, “How would that change the way you respond?”
I then thought to myself, “Well, those drivers in the right lane probably had their minds on their own challenges today and weren’t paying attention to my car or my turning signal. It’s not that they wouldn’t have let me over. They just didn’t see me.” That helped me to calm down and breathe through my frustration and move on with my day that DID get better, I’m happy to say.
But as I reflected on that experience, later, I realized that while I calmed myself down, I also did myself a disservice. Do you see what I did? If you answered that I placed judgment on myself, you would be correct. It was almost instantaneous.
I realized that I do that to myself frequently. I pass judgment. I basically tell myself that I’m not ok. Wow. I wouldn’t do that to a client. I wouldn’t do that to a friend. How many times do you find yourself doing this? Do you feel an emotion and pass judgment on yourself because of it? Do you tell yourself it’s not ok to feel that? Our emotions are our emotions.
Wow, that must have been difficult…
What would happen if I had taken just a moment to acknowledge my emotion and be ok with it? Give myself the gift of empathy. Feel a little compassion. I could have still credited the “most generous story I could think of” to those other drivers and gone on with my day. But maybe, just maybe, if I get in the habit that I acknowledge my emotions and give myself the most generous consideration, I would give myself permission to not be perfect. And maybe, just maybe, I could move out of some “stuck” places a little more quickly.
Learn it. Apply it.
Now it’s your turn.
- What do you tell yourself when you feel a strong emotion?
- Do you ever judge them? Tell yourself they’re not ok?
- How does that impact you? Does it impact how you take action or not take action?
- Does it affect your interactions with others?
- How can you raise your self-awareness around this?
Did this resonate with you? If so, I’d love it if you’d share in the comments below or over on my Facebook page.