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Posts Tagged ‘celebration’

I’m borrowing liberally from Coach Jim’s blog today.  This past week he wrote a GREAT entry about attitude. 

Okay….it’s about waaaaay more than attitude.  In fact it’s probably more about perspective than attitude.  Just bear with me and keep reading.  Hopefully it will become clearer.

First things first.  Here’s a link to Jim’s blog entry. http://www.lifewithhappiness.com/2009/04/nothing-is-good-or-bad/  It’s worth the couple of minutes it will take to read the entire thing.  (And he’s much more concise with his writing than I am.  J) 

Here’s the introduction to his blog.

“…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Hamlet, Act II Scene 2

This quote from Shakespeare is one of my all-time favorites… and defines a foundational element of my coaching practice and life philosophy.

Events are just events.  Stuff happens.  That’s it.

THEN…we create a story to explain that event.  In our “story” we interpret what happened and make up reasons why it happened, and that story evokes an emotional response from us… and suddenly an event is labeled: good, bad, ugly.  And we feel sadness, optimism, fear, anger, appreciation, frustration, concern, etc

Not from the event, but from our thinking about the event.”

I love that!!!  And it’s soooooooo true!

When I see others “over-reacting” (granted, that’s an assessment on my part…..I think you know what I mean regardless …)it’s super easy for me to see that it’s the story they are telling themselves about the event, rather than the event, that is causing them stress, anxiety, etc.

I mean really, when someone doesn’t use their turn signal (or their “directional” as I often say) it’s not because they intentionally want to cause you to swear at them.  They aren’t doing it to intentionally aggravate you.  I’m nearly positive they aren’t thinking about you at all.  They are simply doing what’s easiest for them.  And ignoring the traffic laws.  Ahem.  How freakin’ hard is it to use a turn signal anyway?!?!

What?  Oh.  Sorry.  I’m off track already.  (Sheepish grin!)

Regardless of my lack of focus, this seems to be the perfect example.

If I’m the passenger in a car and the driver gets upset because someone else didn’t use a turn signal, it’s easy for me to see that the driver is reacting to the story they are telling themselves rather than the actual event.

When I’m driving the car and someone doesn’t use a turn signal, and it causes me to lose 30 seconds of time I’ll never get back…..well….that’s an entirely different story.  Grin!  Or perhaps it’s the exact same story….I’m simply telling it to myself rather than seeing someone else doing it.

It’s challenging to pull back from the story and look at the event for what it is.  And the more emotionally involved in the situation I am the more difficult it is for me to see the possibility of any story other than the one I tell myself.  After all, I am the sun and the universe revolves around me, right?????

No?  Are you sure?  😉

Once I’ve recognized I’m in the middle of reacting to my story rather than the event it’s usually fairly easy to coach myself through, “What other reason(s) might explain this?” type conversations.  And I can calm myself down and remind myself that the world does NOT revolve around me.  I can look at the situation from a different perspective and react in a different manner. 

While it’s seldom easy, I find it do-able in most situations.

Where I really struggle is in recognizing I’m reacting to my story rather than to the situation.  I’m typically so wrapped up in “this is awful, how could anyone do this to me, poor potato, doesn’t anyone ever think about me, why is everyone so mean, why are they trying to ruin my plans…” that I don’t realize it’s my own personal story I’m reacting to.  So I’ve been working on that.  On trying to realize that when I feel like I want to scream at someone it’s very likely because of how I’m interpreting the events—rather than the events themselves.

Some days I’m more successful than others.

Today is a day full of challenges.

My birthday is coming up in a couple of days.  I’ve learned (over the past 15 plus years) to be very specific with Mr. Spuds when letting him know what I’d like to do to celebrate my birthday.  (Remind me to share the bowling alley birthday story at some point.  😉  It’s a classic!)  Some years I don’t really want to do much of anything, some years I want to have a bunch of people over, some years I just want to do odd stuff.

This is an “odd stuff” year.  When talking to Mr. Spuds a few weeks ago about what I wanted to do, I asked if he would consider taking me to Nordstrom’s to shop the Saturday afternoon before my birthday.  He said that sounded like fun.  (And yes, there is a limit to what I can spend.  LOL!)  Cool!  So I’ve been looking forward to this ever since. 

Making plans can often cause more stress for me than I’d like.  I’m a total capital J (MBIT) and a bit of a struggling-to-let-go-of-the-need-to-pretend-I-have-control-of-anything control freak.  What can I say?  It’s where I am and it’s a struggle.  I’ve managed to relax some over the years.  In fact just a few weeks ago someone who’s only known me for a year or so called me “laid back.”  Whoa!  Anyway, making plans can cause stress because I have pictured in my mind exactly how everything will happen, will fall into place, will go according to plan.

And we all know how often things go according to plan.  Never!

Back to shopping.

I’d been looking forward to shopping today for a while.  Good weather or bad didn’t matter.  I’d prefer sunny and warm-ish—but whatever.  It’s indoors so no big deal.  I’d sleep in.  Get up and get ready.  Read a little.  Do the odd chore around the house.  Some point mid afternoon we’d head out.  And maybe grab some dinner on the way back.  Or if it was still too early to eat we could always stop at a book store, right!  (No comments about how many books I already have to read please Jim.  You’re just as addicted as I am!  LOL!  ;-))  Just a laid back kinda day.  One thing to do, not really planned.

I could picture it perfectly in my mind.  Ahhhhh.  What fun!

Being able to picture it perfectly in my mind might have been my first clue that I had “planned” it far more than I was admitting.  Sigh.

Mr. Spuds came home last night and told me about some guys from work who were getting together to celebrate a birthday.  They were getting together Saturday night—it sounded like fun to him.  Did I want to go?  Cool!  Yeah, let’s do it.  They are a great group of people.  We can stop by for a drink or two or dessert.  Yeah.

Okay.  We can go from Nordstrom’s to meet them.  They are getting together around 7PM.

What?  Ummmm….that’s not exactly what I had pictured.  Okay Spudsie….compromise.  It isn’t really that big of a deal.  It’s not like Mr. Spuds is trying to “ruin my plans” for the day.  Deep breath.  Okay.  He’s simply trying to work out the timing of 2 things we both want to do.  Okay.  This can work.  I can adjust the picture in my head.  I can push it back a couple of hours.  Okay.  Adjustment made with relative ease.  The irritation is gone.  This will be fun!

I didn’t sleep well last night and woke up feeling a little under the weather.  With very little energy.

Grrrr…..that’s not how I wanted to feel today! 

Okay Spuds…just go with it.  Relax.  Let Mr. Spuds make the bank-run by himself.  It will be fine.  Stay in bed later.  Take a long shower.  Relax.  Okay.  Adjustment made again.  Still gonna be an awesome day.

Go downstairs.  What?!  Mr. Spuds is still here?  I thought he’d left for the bank a long time ago?  What are you still doing here?  Oh.  You thought I wanted to go with you.  Sorry!  My bad.  I don’t feel well, could you go without me?  Okay.  Back upstairs.

What?!  You still haven’t left?  Now what?  Oh.  You can’t find your keys.  Sigh.  No I haven’t seen them.  Why don’t you take mine?  Okay.  Keep looking.  I’m sure they will turn up.

Hey Spuds…..it’s not like he intentionally misunderstood your desire to go to the bank with him.  And he certainly didn’t lose his keys on purpose.  Okay.  Deep breath.  This doesn’t impact you day at all.  Let it go.  No need to react to you story that the fates are conspiring against you today.  J

Eat lunch.  Read more of “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.”  Listen to the birds.  Watch the squirrels (sorry Maggie Mae….I mean the tree rats!) steal the bird seed.  Ahhhhh….fluffy tailed rodents who think they are birds.  What fun!  I may not feel good, but at least I can enjoy the wildlife.

Mr. Spuds decides he wants to make a major grocery shopping run.  What?  Today?  WHA?!?!  It’s already after lunch.  You’ll never get the shopping done and get back in time to head out shopping when I wanted to.  Just when did you think we’d leave?  HOW LATE?!  I wanted to be out of the house no later than 4PM.  ??!!?!?!

Okay.  Another few minutes of deep breathing.  I can adjust again.  It’s not that big a deal.  Let go of your story Spudsie.  There’s still enough time to get everything done.  We’ll just push it back a little later than you had planned.  No big deal.  An easy adjustment to make right?  Okay.  In fact, you can use the time Mr. Spuds is at the grocery store to write.  You’ll be guaranteed no interruptions.  Yeah.  Way to spin it into a positive Spudsie!!  You go!

What?!  You’re still here?  I thought you left 15 minutes ago.  What?  Seriously?  You can’t find your keys AGAIN?!  Okay.  Okay.  Sorry for the tone.  Did you have them when you came home from the bank?  Yes.  Okay.  Did you have anything else in your hands?  Can we re-trace your steps?  Was the garage door open?

(Perhaps I should mention here….Mr. Spuds losing his keys brings back memories of when our house was broken into.  It happened overnight and we didn’t realize we had been robbed until the next morning when Mr. Spuds was ready to leave for work and couldn’t find his keys.  That was our first sign something was wrong.  I still tend to flash back to that moment when Mr. Spuds says he can’t find his keys.  My story immediately flashes to “We’ve been robbed again!”)

Okay.  We’ll find them later.  Here are mine.

Okay.  I’m sure the keys weren’t stolen Spudsie.  He just mis-placed them.  They will turn up.  Deep breath.  Okay.  Let’s write!

45 minutes later I hear the garage door open.

What?!  45 minutes is NOT enough time for a major grocery shopping trip.  Is that Mr. Spuds?  Or did someone else manage to open the garage door and walk into the house.  “Hello?”  “Hello?”

(Evidently 2 instances of Mr. Spuds mis-placing his keys in one day sends my sub-conscious mind to “someone will break into your house again” mode.  Sigh.)

Mr. Spuds?  What are you doing here?  You forgot your list?  Seriously? 

I’m sure the irritation was obvious in my face and in my voice.  I fought to control it but I’m not sure how much good it did. 

As Mr. Spuds left again I found myself really irritated.  My story?  I’m not sure what it was.  Something along the lines of , “Nothing EVER goes the way I want it to.  I can NEVER plan anything without it falling apart.  All I wanted was to be at Nordstrom’s right now.  What is that so flippin hard?!  Doesn’t anyone ever LISTEN to me when I talk?  When I tell them what I want to do?  One afternoon.  That’s all I wanted.  One afternoon!”

Whoa there potato-woman!  Calm the heck down!  That’s a temper tantrum worthy of a two year old!

You know what?  It’s not that important.  Really.  You will still go shopping.  And you’ll meet Mr. Spuds’ co-workers after shopping.  It’s not on the exact time frame you imagined, and you’ve had to re-assure yourself three times that no-one has broken into your house.  And you know what, that’s all okay.  You were able to get some chores around the house completed.  You were able to write for a while.  You were able to take it easy and try to feel better.  You got some reading done.  It’s a beautiful day.  Why the heck are you getting so stressed at a story you are telling yourself that isn’t even accurate?

C’mon potato-woman.  Deep breath.  Change the story.  Quit being irritated.  It’s not even Mr. Spuds that has you irritated.  It’s the thieves who broke into your house that have you on edge.  Why give them so much power?  It’s your own un-communicated expectations that aren’t being met.  No one can read minds.  And plans can always be changed.  Different does NOT mean less.  It simply means different.

Okay.  Letting it go.  No more frustration.  Only happiness.  And optimism.  And joy.  And enthusiasm.  And relaxation.  And peace.  And calm.

Hmmmm….that’s a pretty tasty emotional stew!  J

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