It is often in the moments of setback that our best selves are challenged; here are 4 tips to help
Aaaah Life. Somehow you’re always Johnny on the spot with metaphors providing us with opportunities to take a read of our emotional wellbeing. There’s nothing quite like traveling or should I say, travel hiccups, to do just that in real time. Can you relate…been in a train, plane or automobile of late?
Last week, all jazzed and energized to fly out west to a conference in glorious Santa Barbara (in which Best Self Magazine received a ‘Modern Publishing’ award — woot woot!), we decided to try something different. In an effort to reduce driving time to big airports on both ends, we opted for flying in and out of smaller local airports. That however required taking 3 flights (crazy, I know — but have you ever driven from LAX to SB in rush hour? Suddenly those 3 flights aren’t looking so bad after all, are they?). Suffice it to say, I think I’ve set the stage for the potential unraveling of a smooth itinerary. Do the math: more stops = more room for error and lost luggage, right? And can we talk about carry-on luggage for a minute? Accomplishing that was no small feat in itself. Ha! But I digress.
Our trip started out on a gloriously sunny crisp fall morning — no hitches, no glitches…until standing at the gate about to begin boarding, suddenly our perfect travel day bubble was burst — flight cancelled. Not delayed. Cancelled. A collective moan arose from the crowd. Luckily I had been standing before the ticket counter when this went down so I was first in line to begin the rerouting process, come what may.
In that moment, despite the mental dialog that started unfolding — OMG, what are we going to do? We have 3 flights! What about our dinner plans? Will we even get to CA today? — I was resolute in my determination to stay calm.
I was so calm in fact, despite my mental gymnastics, that I completely surrendered, took a deep breath and stood there smiling at the ticket agent as she frantically typed away and made calls. A woman standing next to me decided to take an entirely different route and began carrying on, slinging sarcastic remarks, insults, complaints, huffing and puffing – you get the picture. Kind of an adult having a meltdown generally reserved for toddlers. And the caveat to that, before we get all ‘judgy’: let’s be real, most of us have been ‘her’ at one point or another to some degree. Her behavior did, however, snap me right out of my reverie, and made me conscious of exactly what I didn’t want to do and what I didn’t want to feed: frustration, resistance, anxiety and unnecessary angst. Man, the poor sister was swimming in it.
As I stood there observing and absorbing her energy, it made me all the more resolved in my stance. 1-2-3 deep breath. As a long line collected behind us, our respective ticket agents scrambled to reroute us. Mine wasn’t going to be easy – 2 people, 3 flights — but voila. With a little bit of doing, she made it work and I couldn’t help but observe that right next to me, my fellow traveler who was unraveling emotionally, wasn’t being met with the same fate. In fact, I overheard her say that she was going to miss her event entirely.
Now, I’m not saying that it was her ‘travel karma’ or completely the result of her emotional meltdown…so much of what we contend with on a daily basis is out of our control, or not a direct result of anything we did or didn’t do. However, we do get to decide how we want to show up for the party each and every day. We do make conscious steps in the moment to resist or rise — a frustrated life in bumper-to-bumper congestion going nowhere or one in the fast lane, all green lights.
We find ourselves in situations all the time where we get to choose.
Here are 4 simple tips and reminders of how to avoid unnecessary emotional chaos:
- Ground Zero: In the bigger picture of life, this has nothing to do with travel logistics. This is all about you. What shape are you showing up in — rested and well-nourished or stressed and frenzied? Our self-care provides our baseline for how we meet life. You may be thinking, what does self-care have to do with travel? You can do the math here. See the connections?
- Reality Check: I know we all think that the circumstances of our lives are the most important things in the entire Universe. News flash – there’s an entire solar system orbiting around us. Travel delays are a 1st world problem. Don’t fall down the emotional rabbit hole over something that isn’t life-threatening. A little perspective is a great re-router.
- Tools: Bring your consciousness along and keep it real. Become a curious observer of the process. Freaking out doesn’t change the outcome, it only makes the ride bumpier…besides, it’s a complete waste of time. Clearly we need to feel what we feel, but calmly processing it all will serve not only you, but those around you.
- Glass ½ full: Have a little faith that it all works out – perhaps not exactly as you had planned, but often times we look back and can see things with a different perspective: a rhyme or reason you hadn’t expected may suddenly make sense, maybe even make you feel grateful.
Life isn’t all about moving at frenetic speeds from point A to point B. Enjoy the journey. It also provides us with the canvas to paint our outcomes — travel delays, disappointments, upset and all. It’s the human experience, folks, and we’re all in it together, in all of its messiness and glory. So how do you want to navigate the ride? Are you the ‘stay calm and travel on’ type or the ‘freaker-outer’? Hmmm.
Smooth sailing my friends. Oh, and remember to pack your best self for your next trip (the most important item in your carry-on)!
As always, I love hearing from you — please let me know one occasion you recently felt your ‘face off’ in the comments below.