Snakes & Ladders and keys…
I am sure, as mums, we all can feel like we are playing a game of snakes and ladders with our children: roll the dice, move forward, up to a ladder or fall down a snake’s back. I am talking about the morning routine…we all know the one, that one when every single thing that could go wrong has gone wrong…
The morning alarm didn’t go off (notice how I’m not taking responsibility for this, I forgot to turn it on…shhh, he he), therefore I was late and in a bad mood, then I spilled my tea, my daughter was tired and grumpy because I woke her up abruptly, I had to repeat everything a million times – she was moving at snail pace, and so on…ARGHH!
When we finally left home and were nearly at school, I realised she had not taken her jumper, it was freezing cold! It really wasn’t a big deal, but somehow I got very angry. And because I was tired and the morning routine hadn’t gone to plan, it seemed bigger than what it really was.
So I angrily turned the car around, hitting the sidewalk in the process, furiously hit the brakes upon arrival at our house, stormed out of the car and threw the house key to my daughter ordering her to go get her jumper asap “coz I have other things to do in my life than running around because of your forgetfulness”.
There’s only one problem, in my fit of anger the keys landed on the roof. I froze, considering the situation. Until then I was very angry with my daughter, but at that precise moment, I realised how silly the situation was, and started laughing.
As I opened the garage to get the ladder, I had a ‘light bulb’ moment, I became conscious of my train of thought and realised I had been making my daughter and me unhappy all morning. It wasn’t the fact she forgot her jumper, but rather what I made of it that I was angry about; and how I turned it into something bigger than necessary. I noticed the unpleasant constriction and heaviness in my chest and the sad and shameful look on her face. It didn’t feel good at all, and I was sorry for being the creator of such unnecessary emotions, and most of all, responsible for making my daughter feel unworthy.
At that moment, I realised that in all the years of practicing yoga, I had not (yet) been practicing “dropping the stories”. A belief that outside events make us happy or unhappy, the stories we create in our mind. Certainly, some events do have a strong impact on how we feel, but our reaction to those events will have an even bigger impact on our mood and wellbeing. As Bodhipaksa writes beautifully, “Realizing that we’re making ourselves suffer gives us the freedom to stop doing that. It gives us the freedom to act differently”.
Looking back on that specific morning, I should have made a mental note that I had gotten up in a bad mood, and that mood was going to colour everything that was going to happen. I was looking at every event through a negative filter and looking for excuses, for people to get angry at. And when you look, you find.
So I climbed up my ladder, got the keys, came back down, and handed the keys to my daughter. We looked at each other, she rolled her eyes and I laughed. She was laughing at me, and I let her because my reactions had been laughable. I was laughing at myself, for having created a situation where I would (almost) deliberately throw my house keys on the roof.
The moral of the story?
- Learn how to aim properly – haha.
- Once you have become aware of your reactive thinking, just accept the pleasant or unpleasant feeling (here the tension in my chest), remembering that it’s normal for it to be there. After all, if there was no feeling we wouldn’t be alive!
- Stop obsessing about the story (my daughter is forgetful, I wasted so much time, etc…), or the guilt (I feel so bad I did this, I’m so disappointed in myself, I should know better), and accept what happened.
- There’s no point in trying to rewrite the story (I should have, if only I/she…). That’s life and not everything runs smoothly, you end up falling down the snake’s back.
- Find the positive side; I got to see the street from a bird’s point of view, got a bit of exercise, and had a good laugh with my daughter. It was, in fact, a glorious start of the day ☺!
Moral of the story?
‘Ride the Horse in the Direction it’s going’. (Werner Erhard)
See you next month,