As I sit here at my laptop, I am picturing a cartoon bubble above my head that reads:
Note to self: planning to write your blog post AND pack for a week long vacation in the same evening is not a wise idea.
It’s ok though. Something will get written and those bags will also get packed.
The ease that I feel right now, despite having bitten off a bit more than I like to chew is in sharp contrast to days of yore.
In my pre-transformational journey days (my own personal dark age), a situation like this would have put me into overdrive. I would have been tense and flustered while rushing this way and that thinking that I would never get everything done.
This, despite the fact that I am someone who always gets everything done. But back then, that fact didn’t cross my mind. It was like I went on automatic pilot and became this controlling, over burdened sole who was under a crushing amount of pressure that no one could possibly understand.
Many people have a normal set point that hovers at simmer and then when one extra thing gets thrown in–a sick kid, a flat tire, a visitor, a dropped ball somewhere–they immediately move to boiling. Sometimes even boiling over.
You know this person. You may be this person.
I certainly was.
Anything that put me out of my very planned and orchestrated routine was cause for me to lose my cool. Which generally presented as snappish behavior coupled with huffing, puffing, eye rolling, frustration and lots of sarcasm.
And, as you can imagine, in a family of seven, there was always something putting me out of routine.
I remember the morning that my husband, who was usually self sufficient, asked me to drive him to the train station when I was in the midst of making lunches and getting the kids ready for school.
We lived exactly four and a half minutes from the station. This request was neither unreasonable nor undoable.
But it completely threw me for a loop. I was in my safe bubble. I knew exactly what I needed to do to get the kids to their various schools and when he suddenly made this request, I was at a loss. How could he throw this at me last minute?
Reality check. He was not asking me to drive him to Canada. Even then I knew my reaction was completely out of proportion, but I felt powerless to shift out of the negative tailspin it sent me into.
“If it’s hysterical, it’s historical.”
I learned that phrase in a couples workshop that I took with said husband (not because he asked for a ride to the train).
It basically means that when you have an irrational reaction, like I did about the train or feeling overburdened, you are actually reacting to something that happened much earlier in your life.
Think about the way you argue with your spouse. How about what you do when your kids fight or don’t listen to you? What about your behavior when you spend time with your parents and extended family? Or my favorite, an unexpected cash outlay being expected of you?
When you recognize that your knee jerk reaction is heated and irrational, it is an opportunity to look deeper. Ask yourself, “What does this remind me of?”
Inevitably you will remember something from your past that made you feel exactly this same way. You will be able to recognize that it isn’t the specific real time situation that you are reacting to, but the painful events that happened earlier in your life.
Taking those unpleasant memories out and looking at them isn’t easy, but it is the only way to mend your current hysterical reactions.
Once I was able to see the messed up patterns that I had around time and desperately wanting to be perfect, I was able to change the way I reacted when I had a lot on my plate or got something unexpected thrown my way.
Now when I recognize a hysterical response, I am able to step back from the negative feelings in order to evaluate what is actually happening right here, right now. After reasonably assessing the situation, I can make a choice.
First I can choose to see that what happened earlier in my life has nothing to do with what is happening right now. Then I can choose to trust that I can handle whatever it is and that I can feel good while doing it.
I’ve been doing this long enough now that it is my new automatic pilot. My set point has shifted to lukewarm. I don’t come close to boiling over anymore.
Are there areas in your life where you know you are responding hysterically? Are you willing to take a look so that you too can change your set point? Wouldn’t your life be so much easier if you did? Hit Contact in the upper right hand corner of this page if you want to talk about it further.
See. Something got written.
Now, off to finish that packing.