A few weeks ago I was in Nusa Lembongan doing surf lessons with Bloody Good Chap.
We were out on the water waiting for the few-and-far-between mini waves to come so we could practice turning.
The surf instructor was a big fan of BGC, they were BFFs forever,
and since he’d also forgotten my name, he kept calling BGC over to catch the waves, even though it was my turn and I’d been waiting way longer.
The second time it happened, BGC paddled over, caught an amazing wave, and by the time he paddled all the way back out to where we were waiting,
I was still there waiting for a wave.
I was not happy. In the most ice-cold of ways.
It’s a huge trigger for me when I perceive myself being forgotten about or left out in the cold.
The cold Indian ocean that is.
As BGC paddled back towards me I knew I was about to punish him for stealing my wave.
He knew I was angry the minute he’d paddled over to the surf instructor knowing he was taking my turn.
He’d looked back at me guiltily and received a cold stare.
It didn’t help that it was a cloudy day and I was freezing; the only thing keeping me warm was catching waves.
BGC was blamed for all of the above. Including that the surf instructor had forgotten my name.
Neville was in full tantrum mode and ready to strike.
Then in midst of my silent fury, my attention suddenly zoomed out and for a few moments
I could see the larger perspective.
I’m surfing in Lembongan. I’m on a 2 week work-free holiday for the first time in a year. I have this beautiful boyfriend who is kind, caring and thoughtful. And he probably didn’t even remember it was my turn until it was too late.
I’m so fucking lucky.
Neville was still tugging at my hand, ready to launch a pas-ag* attack.
In that split second I had a choice – continue on as an ice queen – or let it go.
There was a little internal scuffle, but in the end, I managed to stay zoomed out and let it go.
Not before telling BGC off for being mean for taking my turn in a much more playful way than I had initially planned.
The ice queen was back in her box.
The next time you find yourself about to go into attack mode because of something small someone has done – see if you can zoom out for a second and look at the larger perspective.
This zoom technique is something that comes easier with practice – the more you do it, the more likely it is to happen spontaneously in the midst of a strong emotional response, as it did for me as I floated around in the turquoise water.
Start by practicing it on minor things – like someone that tries to push in front of you in a line, slow walking people on the street, or the next time your partner forgets to do something you asked them to.
It can help if you have a hair tie or rubber band on your arm –
when you notice yourself getting worked up, give the rubber band a flick so it snaps you into awareness.
Then zoom your attention out from the incident and ask yourself, what is the bigger context of this situation? What might the other person’s’ perspective be?
Sometimes just that perspective zoom can be enough to stop our overreaction in its tracks.
The next step of the process is the shoulder shrug. Like everything worthwhile in life, it’s a lot easier to write Instagram quotes about than to actually practice.
I’ll be popping in again in a couple of days with another story about a text that really pissed me off,
and I’ll explain how to practice my tried and tested technique for letting go of the little things so that you can be more like a duck with water on it.
Or a swan, gliding gracefully through life, waves or no waves,
(even when you occasionally bite people who are just trying to give you bread).
*The other day one of my 1-1 clients said to me “I felt myself about to go all pas-ag, and then I couldn’t believe it – thanks to BGL, I just dropped it!!”.
Upon clarification, it turns out that “passive aggressive” is much too time consuming to say out loud. Luckily the dudes at Oxford Dictionary Ltd have amended it to pas-ag.
Ain’t nobody got time for syllables.