The one thing I’ve learned to appreciate about the highs and lows of life including everyday nuances is that it offers me lots to write about.
The other day, Drew and I were at the grocery store. We were almost done but I had forgotten one thing so I went to get it. I picked it up and quickly darted to another aisle to check something out. Then my phone rang. It was Drew who asked if I was close because the cashier was cashing us out. I didn’t even know he was cashing out until then. I left where I was at and dashed to the register to meet him.
In that moment, I could feel the emotion within me increasing. If I had to label it, I would call it annoyance. But as quickly as this emotion wanted to settle into my day, I had a choice that I had to make rather quickly. In that moment I had to decide whether I would let this miscommunication ruin our day.
Folks, life presents us with scenarios like this one that test us each and every day. Trivial in the grand scheme of things but appearing bigger than life in that instant, they threaten to steal our joy and inner peace. It’s crazy how you could be having the best day and then come face-to-face with a moment that could shake it.
I believe this is what Eleanor Roosevelt meant when she said “You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.” My interpretation and perspective about the situation was what would lead me down a path of self-pity and frustration or a little hiccup that was just that and nothing more.
I must admit that I am 100% guilty of not always choosing the healthier response. I, like many of you, can find myself in a state that I do not actually want to be in but can’t seem to get out of-it’s an addictive pattern of thinking. Before we know it, our mind is flooded with instances that seem to lend support to how we are feeling.
In that instant, I wasn’t annoyed that Drew was in line. The emotion arose because I felt rushed and wasn’t being considered. The reality is, I didn’t consider that he was at the check-out. I was taking my own sweet time.
I am grateful it happened. Why? Because it gave me something to reflect upon and write about. I am far from perfect and as much as I’d like to say my response to everything and everyone is always happy and positive, they aren’t. I am learning and growing just like all of you. I need reminders. I need experiences that challenge me. I need forgiveness daily.
It is said that “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”-Lewis B. Smedes
I believe that we have to be on the look out and stand guard against any form of bitterness that tries to creep into our soul. If you find yourself like I did, experiencing the symptoms of annoyance or bitterness, be quick to take one (or all) of these meds to alleviate the reaction:
1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Closing our eyes allows us to create space and in moments where bitterness tries to invade, creating space between us and the invader…is a good thing.
2. Take THREE Deep Breaths. No cheap huffs and puffs. I’m talking full, deep belly breaths counting 1, 2, 3 in and exhaling 1, 2, 3, out. Repeat as needed. Breathe first, speak second. A yoga teacher once shared that a full round of breathing is our personal detoxification system-an air purifier if you will. As such, use your breath to cleanse yourself so that you can effectively respond vs. neurotically react.
3. Understand first, be understood second. People (especially our loved ones) do not intentionally try to hurt us. More often than not, their intention gets lost in translation (Drew thought he was helping by getting in line, unknowing that I was not ready and I was taking my own sweet time, unknowing that Drew was cashing out). Once we embrace this notion, we realize that miscommunication, misunderstanding, and misinterpretation can lead us to believing that we are the victim when in reality there is no victim.
4. No, Thank You. As your mind starts to bring up stuff from the past that appears relevant, use the “No, thank you” response. As each event/memory is brought up (trying to validate the bitterness), respond with a “No, thank you” in your internal dialogue. You may find that you need to say it frequently before you feel any release. The truth is, as we become practitioners of this, you and I become more aware and intentional of our power over our feelings and emotions. You can rule over your feelings and emotions or you can be ruled by your feelings and emotions. You choose.
5. Recite a mantra or quote that inspires you. It could be a joke, a movie line, a scripture passage, a quote from a famous author, a lyric to a song, or a prayer. Whatever it is, repeat it internally or externally (if needed and appropriate) to bring about perspective…and ultimately peace. Thanks to technology, you are a google search away from finding a quote that inspires you and speaks to your soul. Write it out, keep a copy on your phone or in your wallet…never leave home without it.