Wednesday, April 16, 2008

When is it drama?


Last night I was sitting in an airport waiting to fly home from an exhausting business trip. I had traveled on four planes in less than twenty four hours. I had been to nine meetings, two time zones, dinner, work and more work. I was spent.

As I sat waiting for the inevitable delay on my last leg of the journey, I became extremely emotional. Tears were flowing and I started conjuring up self deprecating thoughts...making myself feel even more exhausted.

Then I thought, why do I do this? What is causing me to sit in this airport drudging up things past? Did it matter that when I was twelve, I sat on a plane traveling alone, crying for hours because I was flying away from my best friend? Did it really need to affect me over twenty years later?

I was, emotionally, all over the place. From getting ready to rage on the person listening to their ipod next to me, to feeling wistful for some time in my childhood.

So, I decided to be rational and think about why I was creating even more drama for myself. I mean, I had just had enough with all the business and travel I was doing. Why would I want to subject myself to any further frustration?

Years ago, I would have thrived on this. I would have gone into full "feel sorry for myself" mode and began the arduous process of serious self deprecation. A place I was brink of going last evening. For some reason, I just didn't feeling like allowing myself to go there. It seemed tortuous. In some moment of sheer revelation, I decided to stop and think for a moment instead of running full steam into my internal diatribe.

First, I took inventory of all the physiological; I was tired. Hungry. Aching from seats too small and multiple flight segments. These alone are cause to feel oversensitive.

Second, I looked at my emotions and how they related to the above. I was angry because I was tired. I was frustrated because I was hungry. I was conjuring up the past because all my senses were overwhelmed.

Finally, I decided to figure out which things I could control. The flight delay? No way. The hunger...hello? I needed to find food. The exhaustion and frustration? I needed to do something calm. So, I bought a cooking magazine and turned OFF my blackberry. Easily controlled.

As for the conjuring up the past? It happens. It's not that dramatic if you are able to handle the other variables that cause you grief or frustration. I was able to understand that crying about a childhood friend twenty years later does not mean that I haven't made strides in my life or that I am back to square one. In reality, triggers happen all the time. I also made that trip two weeks after my father had passed away. I had spent most of my childhood in small planes such as the one I was desperately hoping to board. So, I knew there was significance to remembering the event and I just let it go.

My takeway from this:

  • Be conscious of the things that can be controlled like hunger or sleep.
  • Realize that triggers exist, let them fire off, put them in their place and let it go.
  • And, give yourself a break once in a while from the self imposed drama. It's worth it.
It's nice to be home and traveling by train.

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