Yesterday the weather here in Toronto was totally GORGEOUS so the children and I decided to go to the zoo. We're Unschoolers, so we visit at least one of the fabulous attractions in our great city every week.
While we were there one of my daughters was doing something that I felt might create a minor danger or annoyance to other people. I pointed out to her what she was doing and I asked her if she could see the danger and would she stop her action. Then I left her to deliberate her next move.
But before she could do anything, an adult passing by yelled at my daughter and made a derogatory about me.
I WAS LIVID.
I can handle being insulted, but when someone who has no connection to my child chooses to intervene when I am RIGHT THERE it is a HUGE emotional trigger for me.
My usual reaction to an event like that is to let it ruin my day, my week, or even my month. I replay it in my head over and over and over. I make up hundreds of insults and smart-ass comments that I wish I had thrown at that intervening adult. I degrade myself for letting that situation happen. As days go by, every time I am out in public with my children I am suspicious of any one who looks at us because I am afraid of another confrontation. In fact, I even let myself become so fearful of negative interactions with other people that I will deliberately avoid going out.
This time I stayed connected to myself.
Yesterday, as I felt my emotions rising and the blood rushed to my head, I took a deep breath and I blew it away. I relaxed my shoulders, looked into my daughter's eyes and smiled. The angry thoughts started to bubble up and I took another deep breath and I blew them away, too. I asked my daughter what she would like to do now and she answered by skipping away down the path and calling to her sisters.
Mentally, I hugged myself. I repeated to myself: I am not my experiences. I am who I AM. When I caught up to my daughter, I hugged her and I saw that her joy, her authenticity, was completely intact.
This is a big breakthrough for me! I am so used to sabotaging my own joy that this has been a hard habit to break. I am learning to reprogram my thoughts to stay connected to my authenticity.
Recently, two similar incidents have been the catalyst to make me more aware of how I am used to abusing myself. First, a person from my past left a hateful and vile comment on one of my blog posts. Later the same week I received a (gentle) reprimand for a professional mistake that I made years ago when I was an elementary school teacher. I knew that those two events would normally have sparked a long and sad descent into self-flagellation. I couldn't let that happen because, honestly, I have a lot to accomplish!
Instead, I found a way to be grateful for each of those events. I experienced them as reminders to stay connected to myself, to examine who I am, and to wish joy upon the people who brought these events into my life. I accepted with genuine gratitude that these were reminders to chose my own words carefully and to maintain my online presence as a reflection of my integrity and authenticity.
How do you stay connected to yourself when you experience a negative situation?