The other day I broke my French Press. I accidentally swiped it off my kitchen counter. It was one of these slow-motion moments where I saw it fall, thought I’d still be able to catch it - but wasn't. And then seeing it break upon impact. And my immediate reaction was: Well, not a big deal. Annoying having to clean up the glass but otherwise "nevermind". I cleaned it up and that was that.
Earlier on the same day, this had happened at the supermarket: I bought stuff for €5.16 and paid with a tenner. The cashier gives me my change – and I demand another €5 note. I even insisted. She was clearly taken aback and very friendly told me that she’d given me my correct change. Which she had. In my mind, I had given her the 16 cents, too, and therefore was convinced I was owed a €5 note. When I eventually noticed my mistake, I apologized and left hastily. I felt so ashamed. Like really deep shame. My whole mood changed in just an instant. And even in that moment, I knew I was blowing things completely out of proportion. I knew I was totally overreacting and it still felt akin to the end of my world (and trust me, I am fully aware how ridiculous this is!).
A few years ago, I was aiming to change my behaviour to how I reacted to challenges to the way I did in the first story: not getting annoyed with the tiny, unimportant things of life and just moving on with my day. Nowadays, that is still something I aspire to but I also learned that I can’t control my immediate reactions. They are the result of years of conditioning and past experiences. What I can do though is not to judge myself for them, feel the feelings as uncomfortable as they might be. And THEN let them go.
In the past, I needlessly complicated this process for myself. I would beat myself up over the fact of not handling a situation more appropriately. After all, had I still not done enough “inner work”? Was I still not self-aware enough? Etc. What this did though was keep me stuck for much longer rather than solve my issue. My focus today is on switching into an observer’s role, offering myself self-compassion and being safe in the knowledge that this too shall pass – and this applies to insignificants incidences like the one described above as well as the much more impactful ones. No matter how strongly we feel that our feelings will NEVER change, they always do. If we let them. A good trick to get that process is started to focus on our breath. It’s so simple and yes, we are likely to have to repeat this a number of times but that’s ok, too.
At the start of this new year, I am wishing all of us wonderful experiences and a lot of self-compassion for the moments that are trying us. And above all: lots of love.