Updated: Aug 18, 2021
The stupidity of letting sh#tty little everyday events cause stress and anxiety
I am writing this article because in the past, what happened this morning would have ruined the rest of my morning, and maybe the whole day. Instead, as I write this article I've happily moved on. I'm sharing my experience so that you can learn something from my six sh#tty little dramas (that weren't such dramas after all).
First I'll set the scene, I worked late last night and my wife’s away on business, so I'm a little tired. I'm also on ‘school duty’, and earlier in this morning I was reviewing our personal finances (not my favourite activity).
Here's what happened and my lessons learned:
1. Rice Bubbles spilled on the kitchen floor
Snap, crackle, pop... Walking on Rice Bubbles in bare feet feels pretty nice, but not when it happens every week - my youngest has form here. I reacted by suggesting that he clean up his mess (raising my voice, not in anger but because he was in his bedroom and I wanted to make sure he heard me). He reacted, in what I thought was a manner a little over the top… So, I let it go and swept up the few Rice Bubbles that I hadn’t already collected on the soles of my feet (in the past, I wouldn’t have let it go, and likely this minor situation would have escalated).
What I didn’t realise is that my daughter had also spilt something in the kitchen, in this case half an Acai Bowl (come on, we live in Bondi so that’s what teenage girls over here eat for breakfast😫) on the rug.
My son reacted the way he did because he thought, in comparison to what his older sister did, I was overreacting to the Rice Bubbles. He also claims (I only half believe him) that he did not know he split any Rice Bubbles. So, if I give him the benefit of the doubt, what is the point of yelling at him for a tiny accident? Even if there wasn’t half an Acai Bowl spilt on the floor?!
Oh, and in the meantime, without being asked, my 10-year-old son had finished his breakfast (whatever wasn’t on the floor), got dressed for school, brushed his teeth (I think), and put all his sports gear in his school bag. So, in hindsight I reckon he did a good job this morning, and I should move on from the Rice Bubbles.
Lessons learned: Do not react until you have the full picture, try and think from the other party’s point of view, and then respond objectively with a smile on your face.
2. Half acai bowl on kitchen rug
A bit of context; my daughter doesn't have acai bowls for breakfast very often! However, today she had just been for a surf with two friends before school, they then all came to our house to get ready for school. I heard my daughter yell out that she was grabbing an acai bowl as she rushed out the door. Remember what I’d just been doing? Going through our finances, and those Acai Bowl’s are not helping us stick to our budget… Still, exercise with friends before school is pretty cool, and the odd acai bowl isn’t going to blow out our budget (putting things in perspective).
Also, my daughter had ‘cleaned’ up the mess, unfortunately using the wrong type of cleaning product, so I had to remove the rug from the floor, clean the floor (floors under rugs are really dirty), reclean the rug, hang the rug out, and finally I was ready to get onto that school lunch…
In the past, I would have lost my sh#t right about now (I’m a stickler for time and already I’m 20 minutes behind schedule). However, because of the work I’ve done on myself, I put things in perspective with a figurative slap in the face… And remembered that my daughter didn’t spill the acai bowl on purpose, it was an accident, and unlike the Rice Bubbles she does not have history here. And she tried to tidy it up.
Just because I then had to fix the ‘tidy up’, that does not mean she had bad intent.
Lessons Learned: Accidents happen, put things in perspective, and remember people’s intent can be more important than outcomes.
3. Time check: 8.10am, sh#t we're supposed to have left by now, and I still haven’t made lunch.
Now’s about the time that, because I’m anal-retentive about time (nothing to do with my son, so there’s a lesson there too), things can go pear-shaped…
I start rushing around the house raising my voice a bit, I can hear the anxiousness in my voice (if I can hear it, you can be damn sure my son can). In the past, I wouldn’t have had that much awareness of my anxiety around time, it probably would have taken over.
Instead, because I now have more self-awareness than I used to, I ‘pulled my head in’. Reminded myself that whether my son gets to school on time, or 5-min late doesn’t really matter. And, certainly he wouldn't have been at fault if we were late, so there's no point yelling or getting cross at him.
Lessons Learned: Everyone views time differently, some people like me view it in seconds, minutes, hours, and days. Others view it more flowing and are often more relaxed about deadlines. Neither view is right, it’s just what’s right for you. Frequently remind yourself to not project, or try and enforce your idea of time on anyone else.
4. Water bottle on toe
OK, minor incident I know, but those big stainless steel water bottles are heavy when they’re full of water, and it landed right near the nail on my small toe... 😐 Plus, after the ‘kitchen incidents’ we were running late so I was a bit frazzled.
Honesty moment: When that bottle landed on my toe, my immediate reaction was “f#$k”, however, after that expletive I took a breath, apologised, and quickly moved on. By the way, the reason the bottle fell on my toe was that I was rushing, and when I thought I'd put the bottle in my son's school bag I hadn't, and it just slid right past the bag and onto my small toe.
Lessons learned: Don't rush, remember that as the US Navy Seals maxim goes: "Slow is smooth and smooth is fast." Oh, and try not to swear as much in front of your kids (no one is perfect)
5. Rubbish trucks getting in my way
It’s rubbish day over here in our part of Bondi, so having dropped my son off to school (with 5 min to spare 😊), I’m heading back home a little later than I’d like. Sure enough, I turn left and there’s a rubbish truck collecting rubbish moving at about 5kmh. Luckily, there’s a side street I can zip down to get home with no further delays…
Bugger, there’s another rubbish truck and I’m at almost at a standstill for the next few minutes. Now, I know a few minutes may not sound like a lot to you, however, by this stage my ‘internal time clock’ has had a hammering.
In the past, this would be a nice time for me to 'double down' with some cognitive distortions such as:
"This always happens to me." or "they shouldn't be collecting rubbish so late."
But wait, don’t I need to book a physio appointment? Sure, why not use those few minutes productively to see if you can book that appointment… One phone call later, I have booked my appointment, and I’m parked in the driveway. Job done.
Lessons Learned: Jeez mate, pull your flipping head in and practice some gratitude. Remember that billions of people around the world would be super-thankful to live where you live, and even have their household rubbish collected every week. Also, when 'stuck in time' learn to use that ‘down’ or ‘dead’ time to do something productive. For example; making a work phone call, calling a friend you haven’t spoken to for a while, listening to an audible book or podcast, etc.
6. Karma and dog poo
After booking my physio appointment I get out of the car to put our nice clean empty rubbish bin into our garage. Sure enough, not only is there a bag of dog poo in there, someone has also left a half open smaller rubbish bag in there with half it’s contents spilled out...
Maybe that Facebook post I sent out last week about selfish dog owners leaving their dog poo in our rubbish bin on rubbish morning, so it sits in there all week, has come back to bite me on the ar#e?
Seriously, it’s a little pet peeve of mine (pet peeves are super-negative so try not to have any), that some dog owners will lazily leave their bag of dog poo in our bin. Their action means that I need to double wrap it (anal-retentive?), because after a week in the bin in our garage that nice warm bag of dog poo really stinks.
Time to get my hands dirty, clean the bin, double wrap the rubbish, lock the garage and finally get to work…
Lesson learned: Don't be a dick, practice some more gratitude and just be thankful you live where you live, you have a rubbish bin to put rubbish in (at least they're putting the poo in a bag!). Oh, and don’t let sh#t (literally) worry you that you have no control over. If you can influence an event then do so, however, if you cannot (i.e. I cannot stop all dog walkers in Bondi putting dog poo in bins), then change your perspective and attitude about that event, and move on…
Thanks as always for listening, I hope you got something from that download of my silly little everyday experiences. If you got value from it, please share.
Keep on smiling out (or in) there.