This isn’t working!
Do you ever find yourself saying this?
I was tired last night. I left the kitchen looking like a disaster area with dirty dishes stacked all over the counter, books from homework laying around and groceries still sitting in their bag. This morning, I woke up refreshed, ready to tackle the mess. Everyone pitched in, the kitchen was clean and I was getting ready for work when I glanced at the clock and noticed that my son’s ride was late.
Me: “Is he coming?”
My son: “I texted him. He’s not answering.”
Me: “I better take you.”
Still in sweatpants and wet hair, I grabbed the keys and we left for school. All is good.
SNAP! The minute we got in the car, something changed in my head.
Me: “What if I had been at work already? Your ride is unreliable. Now, I’m going to be late to work.”
My son: “I’m sorry. I texted and called multiple times and he’s not answering.”
Me: “I know. It’s not your fault. I’m not upset with you. This isn’t working!”
How did I change from willingly driving my son to school to declaring “This isn’t working!”
IT’S THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES.
All of a sudden, an event occurred that wasn’t part of the original plan, and I started comparing myself to other people. These other people are the ones that are successful, that get to work early every day and would never be in a situation where they drive their son to school because his ride didn’t show up. These other people wouldn’t be so accommodating. These other people have their act together and everything always works for them as planned.
Do you know these other people? Do they really exist? I created this unrealistic “other” person as a point of comparison to substantiate my perceived deficiencies.
I just read “Lean In’‘ by Sheryl Sandberg. She is a successful person that says she juggles home and work, just like everyone else. Yet, in my mind’s eye, people like Sheryl Sandberg wouldn’t get to work late so they could take their son to school – even though I just read her book where she offers evidence to the contrary.
So, how do I stop this noise inside my head, this noise that could impact my whole day? How do I tell myself a different story? I really hated the impact that my thoughts had on my day and on my interaction with my son. I thought about how I could use my strengths next time.
Today is a gorgeous fall day. It’s warm, the sky is blue, the sun is shining, and the mountains are beautiful with their fall colors. I have a whole day with no meetings. I have plenty of time to get my projects accomplished, and, I’m really looking forward to my evening activities. I really enjoy spending time with my son and I enjoy taking him to school. I like getting a glimpse of his highschool world when I drop him off.
I decide I will “Let it be.”
One of my strengths is adaptability and another is positivity. As I look back at this experience, I adapted. I took my son to school AND I made it a miserable experience for both of us. I don’t even want to think about the repercussions of sending all those bad vibes into the world.
Adaptability is about being present and enjoying the moment. Next time I’m presented with this situation, I’m going to do my best to stop and realize I have a choice. I have a choice whether or not I’m going to take my son to school and I have a choice regarding HOW that experience will look and feel.
If I make the choice to take him to school because I want him to get to school on time, because I enjoy the opportunity to take him to school, because it’s a couple unexpected minutes in the car with him, and because it’s an opportunity to say “good luck on your exam, have a great day, I love you more than you can imagine,” then, I’m going to do my best to use my adaptability strength and BE in the moment. I will invest myself in the choice I have made. I will be present. I will also bring my strength of positivity into play and see this as an opportunity to have a moment with my son I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I will allow both my son and myself the gift of a different kind of human moment.
Have you ever had an experience when your self talk changed how you felt? How do you use your unique strengths to tell yourself a different story? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts about using your strengths to change the stories you tell yourself.