“There is nothing either good or bad except that thinking makes it so.” – Shakespeare.
It’s 6:30 p.m. on Sunday evening. I am at Portland International Airport (PDX), waiting to get home after a long weekend of Bachelorette-partying (read: I’m sooo exhausted).
I get to the airport, the last of 15 girls to get out of PDX. All day, my flight has been “on-time.” I approach the gate, and as I am a few feet away, I see a big, fat “delayed” sticker slapped atop the original departure time. All I could think when I see it is, “O.M.G. I just want to go home.”
Almost immediately, I start to feel the following emotions: sad, upset, angry, annoyed and bothered. I am tired, hungry, and was looking forward to spending an hour or two with my husband before he leaves for his 10-day East Coast trip at 7 a.m. the next morning. I call my husband to tell him about the delay and sadness takes over. I am close to tears (sleep deprivation makes you act silly). After I hang up the phone, I begin to really take notice of my reaction to the flight delay, and what is causing me to feel so sad, upset, angry, and annoyed.
I soon realize that it’s not the extra hour of sitting in the airport that is making me feel these emotions, but it is my expectation of getting home, getting rest–and spending time with my husband. My expectations are not being met, and I am not happy about it. I immediately decide to make a decision to feel better. I take a minute, sit down, and accept that my flight is delayed. I remind myself that a one-hour flight delay really is not a big problem at all – and that there are far bigger problems in the world. I look around at the other people on my flight, who are going through the same event as me, and they don’t seem to be bothered one bit. I notice a grandpa playing with his grandkid. I notice people laughing, walking, chatting, eating—continuing to live their normal life. I take some time to remind myself how lucky and fortunate I am to have the luxury to fly on an airplane and spend a weekend with my friends, exploring a new city. My sad, upset, angry, annoyed and bothered emotions almost immediately disappear. But, why? My flight is still delayed.
I feel better because I was able to shift my perspective and respond to the incident (i.e. the flight delay) instead of reacting to it. I let go of my expectation, and just let the situation be. Shifting my perspective was all it took to turn a perceived “bad” event into what it really was, just an event.
Here are three steps you can take to shift your perspective next time something “bad” happens.
1) ACKNOWLEDGE THE SITUATION AT HAND
Find out what it is that is causing you to feel the negative emotions in response to the “event.” In most cases, our negative emotions are a reaction to an event and usually created because a certain expectation is not being met. Here, it was me realizing that the delay was not the problem, but the fact that the delay was keeping me from sleep and spending quality time with my husband.
BEATHE OUT YOUR WORRIES
2) CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Is someone else going through something similar? How are they reacting? Is there a lesson to be learned? Is there something to be grateful for from this event? Go through this exercise everytime you feel stressed because of an incident. Each moment in life is a teaching moment if we let it be. Maybe this negative or “bad” event could have been much worse, so be grateful it is what it is. For example, my flight could have been delayed 4 hours or canceled! Bringing that possibility to mind, I am SO grateful and happy that my flight was only delayed one-hour. Your mind and reactions can quickly change if you just change the way you look at things.
WRITE OUT YOUR STRESS
3) LET GO
Finally, after identifying the root of your reaction and changing your perspective on the event, just let it go. Whatever it is. We are in control of our thoughts and physical actions, and that’s about it. The rest of our life is a result of these two things (more on that in a later post). Take each event as it comes without the need to control it. The sooner we ascribe to this way of life, the easier and happier life will become. For me, I accepted the delay once I realized it could have been worse and became grateful why I was even at the airport in the first place.
The biggest lesson here? Holding onto anything negative will never serve us well, so let get go and be grateful.
How do you deal with stressful situations? Share your comments with us below! Readers can also submit questions to Tashroudian via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #SSAskTash.