Gina Behm, MA, LCPC
Today I am sharing with you an entry in my journal that came about unplanned, which apparently is the best way to go about it! This entry begins as me processing the chaos that was my day, and turns into a lesson I have to remind myself of often. I have decided to share it with you all because I truly believe it will resonate with you, and I hope you find it helpful. I am committing to you now that this entry is word for word from my journal with no edits or changes to make it pretty and perfect, so be nice; I am opening myself up to vulnerability here as you all know I am a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist. Here goes!
“Today is a weird day… I was supposed to have back to back clients from 12-3 and then 4-8. I woke up and my 12 & 1 had cancelled...welp, at least it is the first two so I can spend my morning leisurely! Guess what I found out… I don’t do anything leisurely.
I do not do well when my plans change. It feels like a personal attack when others change plans on me (A.K.A. my husband this a.m. who didn’t wake up for workout class…) or I immediately need to fill the time with something (do I have errands? What should I watch? Should I meet someone for lunch?)
I preach daily about self care to clients, but I have a confession, I don’t know how THE F to do that!!! Even in this exact moment, when I showed up to my new client at 2 p.m. and they no showed me, plus I have a break at 3 p.m., so moral of the story I didn’t even need to be out of my house and away from my pup until 3:30 p.m.
So what do I do? Self care, yes! This is my moment! Get out of the office! But also don’t forget, you’re broke and just lost hundreds of dollars on no shows, so don’t buy anything either! Ok. I’ll go to Starbucks. A $4 coffee can’t hurt (srsly, RUFKM rn?) and while I’m there, I can read my trauma book… THAT SOUNDS RELAXING!!
Here’s the thing. I saw a meme yesterday and I saved it for my page because it is highly relevant to probably 98% of my clients. But guess what, it is 100% relevant to me too. It said:
‘let go of the illusion that it could have been any different’
MAN - I struggle with this! letting go of the idea that my day today could have gone any differently is terrifying because then I have to admit that I never had any control over my day in the first place.
Could I control that my husband woke up with a sore throat? NO.
Could I control if my clients cancel their appointments or no show? NO.
Can I control if the trainer at the gym was kind to me or not? NO.
How about the crazy long line at Kirkland’s because after all, it is Black Friday week (yes, it’s a full week now…) when I just had to pick up ONE pillow I online ordered a week ago to ensure I could skip the line? DOUBLE NO. (this one really blew up in my face, didn’t it :) )
All in all, moral of the story is I cannot control the people or things that happen around me. I am just NOT that powerful. But what I can do is control how I react/respond to these situations and how I choose to feel the rest of my day.
Here’s the thing about emotions - We cannot control when they come, but we can control how long they stay and how deeply they affect us. For example:
Ryan wakes up with a sore throat so skips our workout class.
I FEEL: Hurt, because OBVIOUSLY he just doesn’t want to spend the morning with me!!
#FACTCHECK: has my husband ever lied to me to get out of spending time with me? No. Has anyone? Yes.
So, valid thought; AND I can either mope all day to my husband who loves me because of my past, or I can tell him I hope he feels better and I’ll see him in an Hour.
I walk into Kirkland’s (for the 3rd time in 7 days might I add) and the whole store is rearranged for Black Friday and there is a line of 4+ people before me moving painfully slow.
I FEEL: Frustrated, because I am in a hurry and nobody else seems to be!
#FACTCHECK: is that really what I feel? Or am I jealous that these people all have the day off and I don’t? *ding*ding*ding*!!
#FACTCHECK even more: Do I KNOW these people have the day off? I mean, I am standing here in this store at this exact moment too…
#FACTCHECK AGAIN: Am I actually in that big of a hurry…
So, I can tap my foot, look angry and NOT make the line go ANY faster, just put myself in a bad mood; OR I can trust I left in time, things will work out, and there is no need to panic until there is reason to panic. One of these scenarios has me walking out of this store in a huff, maybe speeding away and who knows what comes next. The other has me able to continue enjoying my day as it comes to me, because remember, I can’t control the events of my day; only how I choose to respond to them.
Overall, one of my greatest fears is that I am not being productive enough - that is another topic for another time, but you can see how it fits here. I clearly don’t do ‘well’ when my plan is interrupted. But here’s the thing, I have to let go of the idea that it could have gone any differently. It feels like embracing this idea takes my power away, but the more I let it sit, the more I feel like I am gaining the power. Whether I believe it or not, I don’t have control over others and how they affect my day. If I choose to acknowledge this, it gives me the power to let go and carry on with my day! If I don’t, I am trapped in a power struggle I am destined to lose.
So, where do you want to be? Trapped, or Free?”
That is my entry y’all! I wonder how many of you struggle with this same illusion of being able to control your day, schedule or anything else other than your own response to situations. In an amazingly perfect timing fluke, there is an addition to this journal entry I wanted to share; something that happened later in my day that solidified even further all of that stuff I wrote:
My best friend here in KC is off on Mondays. We try to grab breakfast together once a month since I don’t start clients until noon on Mondays, but we have been woefully busy these past few months and it just has not been happening. One of the things I kept thinking when clients were cancelling and no showing me was “I am so annoyed; I could be spending time catching up with Brittany right now!” Lo and behold, I finish my clients at 8 p.m. and check my phone to see a snapchat from her recapping her day… her day AT WORK. What a perfect ending to a lesson well learned today - my belief about what else I could have been doing other than being stood up by clients WAS AN ILLUSION. This day, this wonderful, 60 degree November day of mine could not have gone any differently. I was destined to have this day; it’s up to me how I want to end it - angry and frustrated, or with acceptance, and willing to start fresh tomorrow.
Until next time y’all, and Happy Holidays (a.k.a Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and eeeeeverything in between),