Learning to roll with the unexpected can be challenging. I find that I often do not handle this as well as I would like. This week and specifically the last 24hrs are a reminder of how little control we have. I had to leave earlier in the day yesterday to pick up a kiddo and take her to urgent care. This turned into an almost 2 hr trip. This meant that we were not able to go to my nephew’s soccer game as planned, as once we were finally home, we were tired and needed to make dinner. The other kiddo was sick and cranky as well. This affected my goal of posting on Thursday.
Then this morning, one kid is at home sick. The other has another doctor appointment and I am not getting my tasks completed in the manner I wanted so that I can have the fun I had originally planned for today. Tonight’s plan has changed as well.
Basically, my plans, what I wanted to do today, has been interrupted! Not just gone sideways as I posted about a few posts ago, but derailed.
I would love to tell you all that I am calm, cool and collected when things that are beyond me, affect me, but I am often not. When this motherhood journey started, I had no idea how much would be out of my control. Throw in a divorce, many years later a custody battle, job layoffs and a recent back surgery, this life just keeps reminding me how little I have control over some of the chaos we face. We can plan all we want, but it really is often a crap shoot it seems. This applies to ALL of us, not meaning to say, only parents, although this has been one of my greatest teachers of this, perhaps because I have been doing this motherhood thing for almost two decades now. But everyone deals with the unexpected and life interruptions.
As I took the eldest to school today, I was not patient. I was not calm. I was annoyed and put out I guess you could say. Trying to reign in my own selfish desires can be very tough sometimes. I had plans for today dang it! I was thinking as I drove back home, of the things I wish I had done rather than sound frustrated and raising my voice at one that I love so dearly. I know that we all already know these, but this is just a quick reminder for myself as much as for anyone else.
Some of these are specific to driving as I am often doing so when these frustrations hit.
- Breathe! Take a few deep breaths before trying to speak or respond. Roll down the window, let some fresh air in. I live in the NorthWest, where it rains often; let the rain in, let it hit your face and refresh you.
- If in the car, maybe you need to scream. When my kids were small and we were all losing our patience with each other, we would roll down the windows and on the count of 3 we would ALL scream. This would often make us laugh and calm us all.
- Leave the room or the situation for a minute or two. Go get the mail, come back. Walk or run around the block. The quick change of scenery will help with changing your focus as well, even if just for a moment or two.
- Turn the radio up for a few minutes, listen to a song, maybe sing along. Be distracted by something else for a minute.
- Think before responding. I love this quote: “ If you propose to speak, always ask yourself, is it true, is it necessary, is it kind.” ~ Buddha Think about what questions might need to be asked, what kind of solution there might be rather than just on the irritation or annoyance. I need to learn to apply this more often. So much easier said than done, especially when tired or irritated.
- Look at the person you are interacting with. Realize that they may have had plans that are suddenly affected as well by the day not going as planned. They may be just as frustrated as you. Think about how they are feeling or might feel if you react negatively or in haste. Think about ways to work together through these moments rather than separately.
- If you do need to make a quick decision about something during this time, tell the person you are interacting with, that you need a few minutes to collect your thoughts and you will get back to them. Learning to be deliberate in our responses rather than reactionary, seems to be tough for many of us (or maybe this is just me), but will help us in the long run.
- Practice! Practice! Practice! We have all heard the phrase, practice makes perfect, but we are in a rote mode it seems when we say this. It’s not something I do well; at least when it comes to being patient. I am much more inclined to react, rather than think when I am frustrated and feel that things are out of my control. I like to be able to have fun, to keep the plans I make with friends or family and I have a tough time accepting when this can not happen.
In writing today, I am hoping to remind myself that we are all imperfect. That we all have the areas that we struggle with when we are not in control. That we all have moments where we lose our cool and lash out or respond too hasty. But we can learn to accept things that are beyond our control and learn how to deal with those moments more gracefully. We are all constantly learning and growing to be better than the day before, or possibly a few hours before.
What tricks do you apply when frustrated with things beyond your control? Perhaps you have new ideas that would help us all. Please share. 🙂