Originally published on MomsGetReal
The sun is rising over the foothills behind me right now, and it’s illuminating the office I’m sitting in with a glow that somehow makes even the cluttered desk and the beige surroundings look homey. I got to work this morning before dawn and scurried to my desk with my shoulder pinned to my ear so my purse and laptop bag wouldn’t fall to my elbow and send my coffee flying – it was the kind of morning where I would expect that to happen. Showing up to a day full of meetings doused in dried coffee didn’t seem like a good idea.
I’ve let myself be scattered for the last several weeks. And I edited that sentence to say “I’ve let myself be” rather than “I’ve been.” I think that’s an important distinction. When I look at the world from a scattered perspective, I feel scattered. I feel out of control and like things are happening to me. Sometimes, that is a valid feeling, but my question to myself was simply this:
“Do I like feeling scattered?”
My answer – no, I do not.
Not liking something but accepting it anyway and choking it down, in etiquette terms, is being polite. Like when I went to a dinner party and they slapped a big piece of cilantro soaked chicken down in front of me. I hate cilantro with the fire of a thousand suns. Did I try it? Yes. Did I say “I can’t believe of everything you could’ve made, you decided to take a perfectly good chicken breast and soak it in the spice equivalent of window cleaner.” No, I did not.
I cut it up into tiny pieces, spread it out under the bed of rice and ate the salad (and the salad of the person next to me, who felt about arugula the same way that I felt about cilantro).
I didn’t eat what I didn’t like, plain and simple. I chose to honor my feelings that cilantro tastes like soap and avoided something I find unpleasant. I was polite to myself FIRST. So why would I now let a feeling – which is a choice I make – drag me around by the nose?
Viktor Frankl said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” I think that’s a pretty damn smart thing to say. I don’t like feeling scattered, so I’m going to choose differently. Here’s my new structure:
Stimulus: I have a ton of work to do right now, my schedule is hectic, and I sometimes have to put aside what I want to do for what needs to be done.
Response: I am going to choose to respond in a way that creates feelings of happiness and being centered. If my thoughts and reactions to stimuli are generating negative feelings, I choose to change them to thoughts and reactions that generate positive feelings.
I feel better already.