It started off great - he came downstairs after a good night’s sleep and jumped into my arms for a birthday hug. I love that he is in double digits and still wants me to pick him up sometimes.
Somewhere between my putting him down and his arriving in the kitchen for breakfast, he bumped his lip. Apparently, it hurt. Because we spent the next ten minutes hearing about how it was a terrible start to his birthday. I tried to be empathetic - at least for the first six minutes - and then I was ready to move on.
Apparently, he was not. He got up from eating his breakfast to look out the sliding glass doors. “Oh no! And now, it is cloudy on my birthday?!”
Sure enough, a low cloud had moved across the just rising sun. “This is going to be the worst birthday ever!” he exclaimed, bursting into tears.
I stifled a sigh of exasperation. And I paused.
My initial reaction was one of impatience. I was bound to open my mouth and offer a peevish retort - something about acting spoiled or ruining his own day. Neither of those would have been particularly helpful.
So I breathed out the impatience instead. And after a moment I did respond. I am not sure if he liked what I had to say, but I know my more patient tone made it easier for him to listen.
I mostly just wanted him to know that he could focus on what was going well or what was going not-so-well, that he could choose which lens he looked through. We have the conversation often enough that his response went something like, “Yeah, I know.”
It is a conversation we have a lot because it sounds easier than it is. I know that my mood can sometimes be at the mercy of the weather or other things I have no control over.
I regularly find myself at step one in the process - recognizing that I am letting something out of my control dictate my mood. Some days I make it to step two or step three, and other days I don’t.
Instead of giving myself a hard time about not always succeeding, I’ve decided to go with the good enough attitude: I am glad that I can at least recognize the pattern, and I am glad that I am not beating myself up about it.
I am also glad that the sun came out on a little boy’s birthday.
Where are you caught? Where are you holding onto something not in your control? What does release look like?
Jessica Curtis is a professional coach who helps people cultivate intention and live from a place of meaning and authenticity. If you think you could benefit from working with Jessica or want to invite her to work with your group, reach out to start a conversation.