Deep breath followed by this fabulous question, “What’s perfect about this?”
I asked myself this question as I woke up one morning to find red pepper flakes in the cast iron skillet and an interesting aroma coming from my son’s room. Turns out that he loves to spin and really loves to spin glass jars. He poured out the curry, coriander, cumin and thyme into containers and when I asked him why, he said, “Mommy says don’t spin spices because they could break and go all over.” This is true. This is an example of things that I encounter and when that question, “What is perfect about this?” comes in real handy!
Honestly, this really is my favorite question these days, especially when I am in the midst of a negative situation, such as…dumped spices…my child’s tantrum…hitting every red light when running late…spilled Green Goodness drink on the floor…dog having diarrhea on the closet carpet. Now I’m sure these things are completely unique to me so just try to pretend you can relate.
There are many things that happen in my life that are out of my control, ok, when one considers that we cannot “control” anyone else, very little in my life, other than my thoughts, IS within my control. HOWEVER, how I choose to experience these out of control times or experiences has completely changed over the past two years.
Two years ago, before knowing what a life coach even was, I let these “things” that happen control me and would spend hours and days swirling around in my head with thoughts of judgement and feeling quite honestly like a victim. This felt like crap and was coupled with the fact that “things” always happened no matter how much I planned, which was A LOT.
The things that happened always seemed over the top and never seemed like things that happened to anyone else. I would frequently think to myself, “Seriously? This really just happened to me?” Now I know that they didn’t happen to me, they just happened. However their happening ended up teaching me some pretty powerful lessons about myself.
As I began doing my own personal work as a result of life coaching, “things” didn’t really change but I did! I slowly began to notice how I was feeling in my body when these things came about. I then started to notice the thoughts that were coming up creating the negative feelings. Thoughts like…
- Why do things like this always happen to me?
- Why can’t my child be like the other kids?
- Why must my life be so much harder than everyone else’s?
I could go on but you get the idea. I would throw a little mental pity party for myself, seclude myself because at times it was too painful and I would get annoyed at everyone around me for not just knowing how I needed them to be.
What’s perfect about this? What could this possibly be teaching you?
Throughout my life coach training, I heard several master coaches (Terry DeMeo you are standing out in my mind here!) use the phrase “And what’s perfect about that?” or “What do you suppose this situation is trying to teach you?” and I’ll admit that I thought they were big time CRAZY! Perfect? Teaching moment? Seriously, you have NO IDEA what I go through. Just tell me that I’m right, that no other person has had to go through the wild things I go through and give me my “best martyr” prize so I can move on.
What actually happened though was fascinating! Those words began to seep into my thought pattern and I began asking myself those very questions when the wild “things” would happen. This became a serious game changer for me! What those questions did was switch my thinking from feeling like a victim of my circumstances, which I already knew felt bad, to putting my brain to work finding out what I could learn from this. The lessons were simple yet powerful.
What was perfect was often a situation where I could practice…
(ex. I can practice patience when we are running late and my son has already taken a long time to get dressed and now has to do it again because the clothes are backwards. Deep breaths and lots of them. It really is okay AND he’ll probably get dressed faster and off to school in a much better mood than if I huff and puff at him.)
Setting boundaries, both physically and emotionally. Letting someone have their feelings without me getting tangled up in them.
(ex. I can practice setting boundaries physically when my son wants something that I’ve taken away and starts grabbing at me. We teach people how to treat us and what we will allow. During early practicing since he wasn’t quite understanding, I would lock myself in a room until he calmed his body. The physical boundaries allowed me to stay calm and also reinforced that I was not going to accept that behavior (grabbing, hitting, pushing, kicking) in my personal space.)
(ex. I can practice setting mental boundaries by realizing that someone else’s anger, sadness or frustration is their own. They are allowed to feel that and I don’t have to take it on as my own. “Your body is very wild right now. When it is calm, I will help you.” I have also used noise canceling headphones as a visual cue that I am choosing not to listen to the yelling or crying. Yes, I can still hear what is going on but it really helps me to remember to not engage. I go about my business, breathe and stay calm and I have to say that the tantrums diminish so much faster!)
(ex. I can practice staying calm when something spills or breaks. The item is already spilled or broken. I have found that getting upset makes it mean so much more and usually causes me to spend much more time focused on something negative.)
This shift in thinking allowed me to be more creative with a solution. I found myself looking at things from a different perspective to see if there was another way. I could practice realizing the reality of a situation without getting caught up in drama. I could practice staying focused on the present moment. I could practice making choices. I could practice saying “yes” or “no” and really own it.
So…the next time something happens and you feel your stomach tighten or your shoulders clenching or you feel the urge to scream at the top of your lungs,
Take a deep breath.
Feel your feet on the ground,
look around with the eyes of an observer and think…
what is perfect about this? What is this allowing me to practice?
It makes a huge difference for me every day and I bet it’ll do the same for you!
If you enjoy hearing about ways to have more peace and joy in parenting, please check out my website www.margaretwebblifecoach.com or “Like” my Margaret Webb Life Coach Facebook page. I’m being completely honest when I say that I was a completely different parent two years ago (before life coaching) and now I have people come up all of the time and tell me how calm and peaceful I am with Andrew and I feel it too! If you are ready to have more peace and joy in your life, sign up here for a free 45-minute phone session to see if we are a good fit.
P.S. So what was perfect about the spices? Well, he had contained them instead of spilling them onto the floor which made cleanup much easier – for him! I got to practice deep breaths and patience, realizing that they were only spices. When I found him in his room, the aroma was so intense that he was sleeping with his comforter covering his face rather than his body SO I think he learned that he didn’t want to have to smell those smells again and hasn’t done it since. It was also kind of humorous to see how he took me literally and I believe that he honestly didn’t understand that what he had done was wasteful. When I brought him over to it to clean it up, he did want to pour them back into the jars. I sensed that he felt bad when I told him that since he had poured them all together that we couldn’t do that. Lots of perfection for both of us wrapped up in something that was not ideal.