I stood in the kitchen just now asking myself a pertinent question.
Just how old do I think I am? Pushing forty, or pushing 4?
I’ve had a very busy day today. I knew it was going to be a logistical nightmare and I was prepared. I’ve been going to bed earlier for a week or two, and the extra sleep I’ve been having has made a massive difference to my mood and my attitude. Things which have made me wobble significantly in the past few months have not bothered me at all this past week.
All positive, all good. Today, the sun has shone, the sky has been blue. I have smiled, I have bounced along, I have done some more tidying, I have had a good, good day. Complacency began to creep in. ‘I can do this! I can cope! Life is so easy when I get more sleep! I am brilliant!’ etc. etc…
And then this evening things got a bit ragged around the edges. I was meant to be in four different places at once. I managed two of them and delegated the other two. My head started to ache a little due to not having time for an evening meal.
And, crucially, other people started to mess up my happy space!
When I worked in a college library, I used to joke that my job would be a piece of cake if it wasn’t for the students. Well nowadays I could just as easily joke that my life would be a piece of cake if it wasn’t for other people!
Several people behaved in a way I personally didn’t want them to behave, because the things they were doing were inconveniencing me, and my plan for my evening. The positive, happy space started to wobble, and then went ‘pop’ like a bubble. I stomped. I grumbled. I shouted. In short, I had a full blown adult version of a toddler tantrum. Because other people hadn’t read my script! They were deviating from the lines I had given them! How very dare they?!
And then I stepped back from the situation a little and looked at myself, standing in the kitchen doing the washing up I hadn’t expected to have to do, with the resentment tapes running in my head muttering about how if other people only followed my rules, everything would be all right. And, probably due to the extra sleep I’ve been having, I got some much needed perspective from somewhere.
These days I try to live my life as simply as possible and find there are some words and quotations that really help me. For example: Julian of Norwich’s “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well”. I find the repetition and the rhythm of that phrase, as well as the words themselves, very soothing and calming.
Another set of words I try to live my life by is the well known ‘Serenity Prayer’, to be found on posters and fridge magnets up and down the land, but no less important to me despite its ubiquitousness:
God, grant me
The serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.
I usually recite this under my breath (sometimes over and over again) when circumstances conspire against me to make me grumpy. But as I stood in my kitchen with my hands in the hot washing up water, I remembered that it can apply equally to my unhealthy desire to control other people as well.
God, grant me
The serenity to accept the people I cannot change, for exactly who they are and what they are doing right now (however much it is annoying me and messing up my plans)
The courage to change myself and my own attitude (because that is the only thing I can change)
And the wisdom to know the difference. (Because while I do know that other people are not me, and I am not them, I still have this wretched tendency to see people as bit parts in the play in which I have the starring role).
This has been an honest post. I’m a bit nervous about posting it as it doesn’t show me in a particularly good light tonight! But it’s where I’m at this evening. And believe me, this is a massive improvement on the me a few years ago who would have seethed with resentment for days, weeks and possibly months about other people and their evil plans to personally mess up my life… truly I am almost sane most of the time these days 😉
That moment in the kitchen was a mini wake up call, and I decided to write about it to remind myself – place a marker in the sand, so to speak. I managed to turn my thinking around tonight and the positivity is back. For the moment. I will go to bed serene tonight.