A lot of things haven’t been playing out the way I had expected them to and I have displayed behavior that was disproportionately severe relative to the various situations.
I complained about this to my kicka$$ therapist, and she asked me a question that I am putting to use going forward.
She asked: “Who put you in charge of what is supposed to happen?”
She got me with that one.
I have been putting myself in charge of the “way things are supposed to be” by having rigid, inflexible expectations. As a result, I have been mired down by disappointment, impatience, and sometimes anger.
Therefore, I have been working to separate myself from assumptions and expectations about outcomes.
I just performed an experiment on the airplane I am flying in as I write this. The flight has very few passengers, so after we boarded, the flight attendant welcomed people to move to unoccupied seats to stretch out. I urged my sleepy eleven year old, Mark, to move. But when he tried to, the same flight attendant told him to return to his seat. He was a little embarrassed which was enough to set off my pressure cooker and I went into a silent fury.
I waited for my chance to get the flight attendant’s attention and I had planned to spew angry words at her. She was lucky she was not around for a while and so was I.
Because, while I was stewing, I happened to remember what my kicka$$ therapist said. I was making myself in charge of the outcome of the seating incident. I was going to say fiasco but it was not even that. I backed up enough to make myself wait to see how things would turn out if I did not verbally assault the flight attendant.
The flight itself turned out to be turbulent. When the flight attendant finally did walk by, we hit a bump of air and she had to grab the overhead compartment. Mark asked if she was ok.
“What did he say?” She asked me with a tired, absent look.
“He wanted to make sure you are OK.”
I was barely able to get the words out before her whole body language changed. Her face bloomed with a smile and she zeroed in on Mark.
“What is your name honey? Do you want some cookies or pretzels? You can go back there now and sit. I had just told some grownups they could go before and there’s still room for you.”
This is what happens when I remember that I am not in charge of the outcome and I just accept the way things play out.
I plan to look for other field experiments.