Something really interesting happened this morning. I might even say it was a pretty powerful experience. I was having an extreme bout of “the yuckies”. I was getting on the train to go into work when it hit me. Like the train, my mind was leaving the station and there was nothing that could stop it. The inner monologue went something like this: “I feel sh***y. My life sucks. Nothing is working out the way I thought it would.” And off I went. I was now in the foulest of foul moods. The mother of all funks. I was seeing the world through a filter of swamp muck, and my inner monologue confirmed that. It was grumpy, bitter and judgmental.
I didn’t expect the biting sarcasm that followed, in similar intonation to Dana Carvey’s Church Lady character, “Well now what have we here? The ‘coach’ is actually human after all, eh? My, my, aren’t we feeling a bit sorry for our crabby little self this morning?” I ignored the snipe and tried to distract myself with the usual maneuvers to shake it off. Cruised over to Facebook. Checked the news. Looked out the window. Stared off into space. Nothing worked. Facebook made it even worse as I began to compare myself (unfavorably, of course) to people’s posts—what a surprise. Woops! More sarcasm. It was clear I needed an intervention before I arrived at work, lest I unleash my s**t storm on unsuspecting colleagues. I had to coach myself off the slippery, mucky ledge that I had created for myself. So I intervened.
“STOP! What’s really going on here?”
I knew something inside me needed attention; maybe even a little TLC, but what? Allowing for a few moments in silence revealed the culprit. A person with decision-making authority over an exciting opportunity for me had been unresponsive lately, and I was imagining all the possible reasons why. I don’t mind having to be patient for good things to happen, Lord knows I’ve got tons of patience, but the uncertainty meant I couldn’t allow myself to plan or feel excited about something that wasn’t a done deal, and frankly, it was pissing me off!
“Breathe”, I told myself. Then, “Let it go. You can’t control what other people do; you can only control how you think about it.” Just the act of breathing and coaching myself to let go of the disturbing thought pattern created enough space for a higher quality thought to slip through. I recalled, in that moment, that I was in the middle of reading Michael A. Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul, the first chapter of which is, ironically, “The voice inside your head”:
“If you’re willing to be objective and watch all your thoughts, you will see that the vast majority of them have no relevance. They have no effect on anything or anybody, except you. They are simply making you feel better or worse about what is going on now, what has gone on in the past, or what might go on in the future.”
What happened is I got in my head and got stuck there, thinking that the thoughts themselves were the reality. I don’t know why that person is being unresponsive, I have no facts to go by; but I do know that I’ll get the answers eventually, even if not in my preferred timeline. What’s more important is how I decide to handle my thoughts, the feelings the thoughts provoke, and how I choose to act on them. I chose to stay in balance by remembering what is and isn’t in my control, and to breathe a little more deeply when I forget.
It’s been just a few hours since I had my private little meltdown in the train this morning but it feels like eons ago. I shared my situation with a friend who also reminded me to breathe, and got some powerful coaching from a master coach I’m working with. She gently reminded me what was most important—that there is a much higher purpose beyond the thing-that-was-bothering me (I’m paraphrasing), and to focus on my ultimate mission, co-creating with my coaching clients a life of possibility beyond what they’ve dared to imagine for themselves.
What was truly powerful for me was experiencing both thinking the negative thoughts and realizing that I had absolute control over what I did or didn’t do with them, and choosing to see them as just thoughts. When I did that, they lost any power they had over my mood, and the choices I believed I had. As simple as it sounds, it made all the difference in the world.