…and I am not talking about your camera here, but rather the lens with which you choose to see the world.
You have the children in the car, heading away for a fun family day out. You have arranged to meet a friend, and you are all looking forward to it.
Part way in to the journey you come across traffic, which ends up coming to a complete standstill. You get the feeling you are going to be stuck here for quite some time.
Choice time! Do you:
- start feeling frustrated, anxious that you are going to be late, worried about how the kids are going to behave, concerned about how long it could take?
- feel grateful that you are not involved in what is most likely to be a crash up ahead, send some wishes/prayers for those involved, and then make the wait ahead as fun as possible with the kids?
Which ever choice you make has no impact on how long you are going to be waiting. Being frustrated is not going to get you there on time, but it is going to make the journey less enjoyable for all involved. We cannot change the situation that we are in, but we can absolutely change the lens with which we view it. The situation remains the same, the experience is very different.
This happened to us on Sunday. We had finally got 4 children in the car, coats, hats, gloves and snacks packed (thank goodness for the snacks). About 45 minutes into a journey that should have taken us around an hour (and ended up taking just short of 4 hours) we came across a complete standstill on the motorway. When we realised that there was also no oncoming motorway traffic (we assumed due to an air ambulance needing to land) we knew we could be in for quite some wait. This was our choice time.
We instantly moved into choice 2, and explained to the children why we believed we were stopped. We acknowledged that it was frustrating for them, but reiterated that we were lucky to be the ones sitting and waiting, safely. As we often discover, the children absolutely amazed us with their patience (even though we got a little tired of I-spy with no changing scenery).
With children (and in fact even with other adults) we can teach and learn so much by the way we CHOOSE to look at life. Learning to control the self-talk in our mind is a conscious skill to master, but well worth the effort. It literally changes your experience of parenting, and of life.
Let’s look at another scenario (the one I am faced with today):
A busy Mummy has 2 days a week set aside for her self-employed job. These are the only 2 days that she has childcare for her pre-schooler, and there is always plenty to do on those days. On one of those working days, two of the school-age children have a mild tummy bug, and definitely can’t attend school. You get the feeling you aren’t going to get much work done today!
Choice! Do you:
- Panic about all the work you can’t get done, tell the children that although they can stay home they mustn’t disturb you, making them feel unfairly guilty for being unwell, all while you get more and more anxious about what you feel you need to get done today.
- You do a quick look over your work schedule for the day, highlight the couple of parts of the day that really must go ahead (if any), and reschedule the rest. You express gratitude that you have created a job that allows you to be flexible and spend this day alongside your children. You breathe and remind yourself that you always find a way to pull off the most important things.
And today one of those important things is nurturing your unwell children. For me it is a rare chance to connect with the school-age girls without the preschooler around. And once their little love tanks were topped up, they were actually quite happy to entertain themselves for a bit while so the most important work tasks could be completed. And the rest…well I know I will get to them!
We are faced with these choices all day long, but often we don’t see them as choices. I often hear people talk as if life is being done to them, and that they have no option but to react the way they do. This really is not the case. When we control our thoughts, we control the experience. Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.
As you approach your challenges today, see if you can make a choice to think the thoughts that are most likely to make the journey a positive one, whatever the outcome. Think of the powerful law of attraction, and remember that where focus goes, energy flows.
It all starts with your thoughts.
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