Yesterday, I was late to a morning meeting. I had planned to be late from the beginning so when I got in the car knowing the meeting was just starting across town, I wasn’t anxious. I wasn’t rushing, I wasn’t passing people at a million miles an hour. I was just driving. At a regular speed and knowing that I would get there, safely, whenever I arrived.
Counter that feeling with dozens of other times I’ve been driving somewhere and I was late but hadn’t planned to be late. I can always feel the anxiety building in my body as I curse the red light, tapping my fingers on the steering wheel willing the light to change faster. I catch myself watching the clock slowly move forward and sensing my dread of being late.
So what was the difference in knowing I was going to be late and accepting it versus running late without expecting to and feeling anxious about it. Honestly, the only difference was my mind-set and my thoughts. In both cases, I would inevitably arrive late. But yesterday, when this was always the plan, I walked in calm and assured and whenever I haven’t planned to be late, I walk in feeling anxious and irritable. The only other time I clearly remember being late to an event and still being calm was several years ago, soon after my father died, when I followed a funeral processional to a meeting. I remember being acutely aware of my thoughts that time too.
This simple “aha” for me yesterday made me realize that the next time I am running late unexpectedly I have the power to choose how the experience will feel in my body and I’d like it to feel calm and collected rather than frazzled and anxious. I suppose I realize now that I always have the ability and power to make it so!