Mindful Monday: When It's Hard

This calming, ocean view is not what my day looked or felt like.

This calming, ocean view is not what my day looked or felt like.

I’m writing this post after feeling the full frustration of my day. I had to wait on handy people who were late. Pretty dang late. After I’d already restructured my day for their schedule. In the midst of that, my phone decided it’s done being a phone, but I couldn’t go get that taken care of because I didn’t know when the handy people would make their appearance. Then, the really chatty handy people appeared so I found it difficult to disappear once they showed up. This completely threw my schedule off and there was no way everything I needed to get done was going to get done.

I wanted to be angry and throw a temper tantrum, but instead of acting on that first impulse, I chose to be mindful for a couple reasons. The main one being, what else could I really do? Throwing a fit wasn’t going to change things or make the current situation any better. The second reason being that I really wanted to learn from this day in order to create a different experience in the future. Time wasting is one of my major pet peeves.

What mindfulness does is it allows you to see the experience for what it truly is. Without all the extras I was initially throwing on it. Mindfulness in this particular instance was an opportunity for me.

Or rather plenty of opportunities. An opportunity to practice being mindful when that was the last thing I wanted to do. An opportunity to practice gratitude. And an opportunity to gain awareness. To look at myself. See how I contributed (even indirectly) to this situation. What my responsibility was.

So what did I become aware of?

I Can Be Mindful

It’s a lot easier to be mindful when I’m outside or something “good” is happening. The breeze on my face, the smile of an elderly gentleman, the taste of popcorn. I got that.

It’s much more difficult when something’s going on that I don’t want to be going on or I’m feeling an emotion I don’t want to be feeling. But mindfulness is the practice of being present in every moment, accepting it as it is without judgment. And “good” is a judgment.

So there I was, practicing mindfulness during this situation. I was able to bring myself back to the present when I got carried away in my mind. I brought myself back to my breath. I felt the heat build in my chest and throat, the slight knot in my stomach, increased heart rate, and tense jaw. I observed my thoughts and urges, which oscillated between feeling sorry for myself, problem solving, really letting these time wasters have it, and the people pleasing side of me saying, “It’s okay.”

I noticed what was without acting on my initial urges. Probably a wise choice in this instance.

I Can Be Grateful

I recognized and am appreciative of the first world problems I had today. I’d much rather be dealing with some time wasters and thwarted plans than live amongst violence, not have food to eat or a roof over my head (As much as I love the great outdoors!), illness, injury, loneliness, or the myriad of other far less desirable problems that exist in this world.

I felt tons of gratitude for things I do have in my life, rather than got stuck feeling sorry for myself and becoming a whiny, little brat. I even felt gratitude for the thoughts and emotions because they were guidance, telling me something was wrong with this situation and inspired me to look more closely at it.

I Can Take Responsibility

I didn’t have much control over these unfortunate events, so it’d be easy to think there’s nothing to take responsibility for. However, I believe we almost always play a role in the things that happen to us in our life. At least as grownups.

This doesn’t mean it’s our fault that unfortunate things happen to us. I’m not trying to victim blame here. I’m trying to decrease the likelihood of being a victim. I’m trying to empower.

Taking responsibility for our part in things is very different from casting blame. In fact, it allows us not to cast blame at all, but rather look at situations more objectively and make decisions that will ideally set us up better for the future.

Since I seem to encounter time wasters far more than I’d like to or think is normal, I reflected on why this might be the case for me. Specifically, I examined how I waste my own time (Social media, the internet as a deep, black hole.). How I waste others’ time (Not being fully prepared at times.). How I allow others to waste my time (Agreeing to plans I don’t actually want a part of, spending time with people I don’t want to spend time with.).

There were some things I could have done differently that may have led to a better outcome. For one, these handy people are notoriously late. I could have gone about my morning as I normally would have and still probably made it home in time to greet them. Or communicated more effectively. Checked on their schedule when I woke up in the morning or asserted that given their past challenges with time, I needed them to arrive sharp since I’d have to leave shortly after regardless.

As for my phone, I’m notorious for using things until they die. I’d probably waste less time if I accepted electronics’ shelf lives and traded them in earlier.  

I don’t know that any of that would have changed what happened today. Ultimately, I’m not in control or anyone else. Or electronics’ ability to function. But I imagine if I’m more mindful of how I spend my time, others will be more mindful of my time as well.

So what did I do once mindfulness lessened my rage into annoyance?

I problem solved because I didn’t want to waste any more of my day. I had to prioritize meetings and client sessions because they involved other people I have a responsibility to. I also had to see if I could get my phone fixed or a new one as it’s the only one I have and I use it for work. Everything else I fit in where I could (Aka writing this late night.) or pushed it to the next day (My workout, which I’m still working on accepting.).

I also accepted that this is simply life. Even if I’d been more mindful going in, we can’t predict the future nor plan for every single possibility. Not everything is going to go exactly the way we’d like it. But mindfulness helps us deal more effectively with whatever is thrown our way and even with roadblocks, helps create a smoother road to travel.