This isn't a parenting blog, but I learn many things from being a parent. Lessons that can be translated into anyone's life, so bare with me as I share this story. You might find that you can relate.
On a recent flight with my son I was reminded of a valuable lesson. It was his first flight, and so invariably, I was nervous. To begin with, I packed too many items to take on the plane to keep him occupied and entertained for an hour. Between myself and cc we were carrying 4 bags and rolling his car seat (not to mention the two suitcases we checked). My biggest fear was that he would cry and make passengers around us annoyed and frustrated. My level of anxiety was high. I expected it go badly. I expected him to cry or scream in the hot, cramped quarters. I expected other passengers to roll their eyes, give me dirty looks, or even worse, say something. I expected all of it. I could even see it play out in my mind.
Then it happened: take off, beverage service, the landing, and not a single tear. He was a perfect angel, but before we even landed, my nerves were shot.
During the flight I kept asking myself why I was getting so distraught. It was going better than expected. He was engaged, and he flirted with the girls in the row behind us. He was drinking and snacking and generally, a happy camper. I kept trying to find my breath: to be mindful and grateful that all was going so smoothly. However, I couldn't shake it.
I couldn't enjoy the flight because I told myself that I wouldn't.
I was short of breath, stomach in knots, and because cortisol was pulsing through my veins, I was moody. So what was happening? My body was reacting the way the mind was telling it to. I told myself that the flight was going to be horrible and, therefore, my body responded accodingly despite the true outcome. This didn't just happen in that moment. I had been expecting this flight to go south since I booked it weeks in advance. There in lies the problem. I created a road map in my brain that would activate my fight or flight response before I even got to the airport! I set myself up to fail, and had plenty of time to agonozie. I couldn't enjoy the flight because I told myself that I wouldn't. It was a self fulfilling prophecy.
Had I spent the weeks leading up to the flight visualizing a good outcome and positive ways to handle the situation if he did cry or scream, I would have been able to find my breath because my body would have been able to take over in a positive way. I would have been able to stay mindful and relaxed so if it did happen, I wouldn't have made it worse. In the end I am grateful it was great flight. Lesson (re)learned. Thanks universe!
Have you been in a situation like this before?