What to do When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

“There is a reason why you only forget your wallet on the day you’re already late.”

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Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash
Photo by Fabrizio Verrecchia on Unsplash

Alarm is supposed to go off at 6:00 and it goes off at 7:00: a tragedy.

Picture this:

It’s Sunday night. Thinking about the coming week, you’ve been reading your wellness blogs, and you decide you’re going to wake up 30 minutes earlier to get in a nice morning routine. You set the alarm for 6:00. Alarm goes off at 7:00. You wake up, realize you set the wrong time, and jump into panic mode. You spring out of bed, swearing to yourself, and the whole time that you’re very quickly getting ready, you’re telling yourself that you suck and now the whole day is going to be screwed up and you can’t believe you did this (…effectively perpetuating and exacerbating your body’s stress system). This continues the whole way to work, and oh ya now you can’t get your coffee because you’re already late, and it’s not until about 10AM (if we’re being generous) that you finally calm down.

When you think you set an alarm for 6AM and it goes off at 7AM…that is stressful AF. But what if that stress response occurred from 7:00-7:01….not 7:00-10:00 (or later). That’s possible. It’s not rocket science, it’s just brain science and it takes a lot of strength. You don’t get strength if you don’t practice. Start today.  

Here’s what you do:

  • Recognize a stressful situation has happened (this happens automatically- it’s that twinge in your stomach)
  • AS IMMEDIATELY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN, recite: “Being stressed about this will only make it worse”.
  • Take 3 deep breaths, counting to 4 in and out. In: 1,2,3,4. Out: 1,2,3,4.
  • Talk to yourself in this language: “That sucks that this happened, but there’s nothing I can do now. I cannot go back in time and wake up earlier. How can I go forward with the most ease possible?”
  • Answer that question. Consider these options:
    • Are you late for something? Could you reach out to whomever necessary and let them know you’re going to be late? 95% of the time, the person says it’s fine and you can relax!!
    • Do you need to cut time? Take a minute, sitting in a relaxed state, to think about what you could cut out? Do you need to wash your hair or can you just use dry shampoo? Decide that when you’re in the shower, you will decide what to wear. Maybe take a minute to write out or make a mental checklist of all the things you need to take with you for the day. There is a reason why you only forget your wallet on the day you’re already late.
  • Ask: What could I do to help combat the stress of this situation and start the day on the right foot, even with limited time? Consider these options:
    • Instead of driving around looking for a spot (a usually stressful activity), I can park further away and walk, focusing on my breathing, to get some blood flowing.
    • When I’m in the car (or train or bus) I could do some breathing exercises to relax.
    • I can review what I need to do that day when I’m in the car.
    • While I’m getting dressed (or insert activity) I can think about 3 things I’m grateful for.

If you need a short mantra to remember this process, remember this: “Relax, breathe, ask good questions”

You will arrive at the exact same time if not earlier. Taking the minute to gather yourself seems counterintuitive because you’re already thinking about all the minutes you’ve lost. But when you’re able to move forward with ease, you actually make up time. It takes much longer to find your keys when your blood is pumping and you’re telling yourself you’re the worst and you’re running around your place aimlessly.

 The Bigger Picture

The exact same process can be applied to anything, big or small. What I’ve found is it’s usually not the earth-quaking, life-altering moments that we navigate so poorly, it’s the every day inconveniences and annoyances.

There’s traffic, you forgot your laptop or important papers at home, your car breaks down, somebody says something that pisses you off… We are astonishingly bad at handling these situations.

What happens when you get good at it? It’s called, peace. True inner peace.

 Imagine a day where nothing got you down. Nothing bothered you. Sure for a second you thought, “Crap, I’m going to be late” or “Wow, I’m so tired right now”, but just as soon as the thought came in, it went out. This is possible, but it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice.

Next time you feel that twinge in your stomach and your shoulders tense up because someone cut you off or maybe someone’s not responding to you, relax, breathe, ask good questions…starting with: “How can I go forward with the most ease possible?”

Your results will RADICALLY change and if you keep it up, it becomes second nature. You become at peace.

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