Have you ever had an experience when things didn’t pan out like you expected? When things completely fell apart? How did you feel in that moment? Betrayed, sad, frustrated, disappointed, helpless? Maybe all of those emotions? Chances are you are nodding your head about now and thinking back to the last time this happened to you. As humans we naturally like to have control, have a grasp on the situation and understand what is happening around us. When things fall apart and don’t go the way we’d expect or like them to we feel strong emotions that are difficult to process in a healthy way.
This morning I had a similar experience where I felt like the fates were against me, where everything seemed to be going wrong all at once. As a result of choices I made and events that were completely out of my hands, I missed an event I had been looking forward to attending with my best friend. A yoga class we had decided to go to with our friends for my birthday.
I was told yesterday afternoon that I needed to go into work this morning, so today I got up early, packed up my yoga mat and laptop and headed for the subway. As is typical in the D.C. subway system, there is track maintenance being performed this weekend, which leads to delays. But what I didn’t know is that the stop where my client is located would be completely closed. To get around this little inconvenience I got off at the next stop and took a bus back to my client. “Okay not so bad, I can handle this, just take a cab when you leave” I told myself.
Two hours later, after not really getting too much done, I packed up and prepared to head to yoga, which was due to start in an hour and was completely on the other side of the city. By then the snow had started and cabs (or “ubers” or whatever you call them) were not to be had. So off I went back to the bus to get back to the subway station. It was on this bus (which took 30 minutes to get to the station due to the snow) that I realized I wouldn’t make my yoga class. Three hours later, one evacuated station due to a fire emergency, one bus ride in the snow to another station, one additional delay due to more maintenance and one transfer to the line I live on, I made it home. Talk about things not going your way…
When I realized I wouldn’t make it I was an emotional wreck inside. I felt panic, guilt, anger, frustration, and disappointment. I wanted to scream, cry and yell at someone all at the same time. I was angry at myself for putting my job first, angry at the wintry weather, felt fury towards the D.C. subway system and all of its inadequacies (those who live here will understand…), guilty for being a bad friend and a no show, and disappointment for not being able to do something I was really excited to do. But instead of screaming and complaining (like many people around me) I focused on one thing, what I would do as soon as I got home. The one thing that calms me, brings me back to my center, grounds me, and helps me process the events of my life. Yoga. I got on my mat as soon as I walked in the door.
Now I don’t share this story for your sympathy or acknowledgement of my tough day. I share this to talk about what happened as a result of the events of my morning/early afternoon. How I reacted to said delays and disappointments. Life is unpredictable and things will get thrown at us when we least expect them to. It is how we deal with them that really matters.
Now I am generalizing, but I believe there are three categories of what we as humans do when things don’t go our way. We either (1) take it out on someone else, (2) ball up the emotions, store them deep down inside and do nothing, or (3) process them in a healthy manner that won’t hurt you or anyone else. Now we all know where (1) takes us. In the end we regret lashing out and hurting someone else and usually feel even worse than we did to begin with. Some people may think (2) is the better option, though that isn’t healthy either. Letting strong, negative emotions stay inside and fester is no good. Left in the body they can get stuck and may manifest sometime down the road as illness or depression. Finding a healthy way to deal with the craziness of life, aka numero (3), is the answer.
Everyone is different in how we deal with our stuff. For me, I turn to yoga and write (boy, the day I can turn that into a full time profession I will be one happy lady). The important thing to remember is to do something. Don’t keep it in and hide away. People may think that is a sign of strength, but being honest and open with what you’re dealing with and actually dealing with it in the way you know best is a sign of true strength. You’d be amazed by the number of people who will jump up and offer to help you get through it. So next time something doesn’t go your way, take a step back, breathe, and choose your number (3).
Peace, love and happiness,