I had to book my flight.
So I finally took care of the details. I made my flight arrangements for an upcoming work retreat in California. I was so excited. I love California and whenever I “have to go,” I’m over the moon!
Except this time.
As I was booking my flights, that little calendar popped up and I realized that I would be flying on September 11th.
I wondered if it made any sense for me to fly earlier to avoid getting on a plane that particular day.
I wondered what kind of extra security would be in place.
I wondered if I was being ridiculous for even thinking about it.
Hmmmmmm. I wasn’t sure what to do.
I had always had a bit of nervous when it came to flying, especially since I had kids. But never enough to actually change my plans. As soon I as actually got to the airport, I was always fine. My anxiousness was more about travelling than actually flying.
But here I was, having these thoughts.
I made a decision not to talk to anyone about it. This is not what I normally do. I usually phone a friend or a sister and talk it through. But this time I just wanted to keep it to myself; my thinking was that not acknowledging my thoughts would somehow make them less real.
So I paid for my ticket and didn’t talk to anyone about my concerns.
As the trip came closer, I was fine. I wasn’t even thinking about it that much…just how much I loved California and how excited I was about the retreat in Sacramento.
When I got to the airport, there was no mistaking what day it was.
There were moments of silence planned in many cities and airports. There was also more security than I’ve ever seen there.
I caught myself wondering why the other passengers were travelling that day. Any “bad guys” in my check-in line? Because you know you can tell, lol.
I also wondered if any fellow passengers noticed that it was September 11th and if that mattered to them at all. Were they nervous too?
I couldn’t stop thinking about the people who lost their lives on that fateful, horrible day.
I boarded my plane and took my seat.
Enough of this. I decided it was time to change my thoughts because I wanted to feel excited about my adventure rather than anxious about getting there.
And I did.
In fact, it wasn’t even that difficult. I realized that continuing to think about everything I couldn’t control wasn’t serving me at all. I didn’t even have a direct flight. I would be up and down a few times, with new passengers, in different airports.
My new thought was that I was so fortunate to be able to be attending this retreat in California.
Thinking this made me feel grateful and excited. Much better.
I felt so empowered to be able to decide how I wanted to feel and make it happen.
The circumstance was neutral; I was, indeed, flying on September 11th.
How we think about the circumstances in our lives creates our feelings. Not the circumstances themselves. This is what my midlife coaching practice is all about. So many of us fall into the trap of believing the circumstances in our lives cause our feelings. “Midlife is a crisis” is a big one…it’s just a thought about the circumstance of being a certain age. That thought doesn’t make any of us feel good, that’s for sure. A more likely feeling is sadness and/or panic.
Living life this way means that we have little control in our lives. My clients have told me all kinds of stories about what they think makes them feel the way they feel, but it’s never their thoughts. It’s their job, their boss, their spouse, their mother-in-law, their sister, etc.
Learning the difference between the facts in your life and your thoughts about the facts is the key to taking control of the way you want to live. I like to call this “midlife unplugged”…finally living an intentional life, rather than being on autopilot with your thinking.
This can be your life too! Yes, it takes work. You can’t just snap your fingers and pull out another thought with ease all of the time. But the more you work on it, the easier it becomes.
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