We cannot control the past.
We cannot control other people.
As Aaron Burr sang in “Wait for It” (Hamilton, the Musical, with which I am absolutely obsessed), “I am the one thing in life I can control.” Since I don’t have any control over how I got here, the only thing I can do is to make this moment count. That is… two year from now, I want to look back at this phase of my life and say, wow, that was the best thing that happened to me.
If I’m here, I’m going to make this the best here I can make it.
Here is a result of past situations, choices, interactions… Here is where I am now.
My feelings are symptoms.. Discomfort means that my goals are more difficult than I’m capable of, so I need to adjust my expectations or I need to up my game by working harder and smarter. Anger means that I feel like someone has hurt me. Fear means that from experience, something like this has caused me pain in the past. Sadness means that I don’t think this is good for me. These are all symptoms.
When I’m frustrated with my kids, more often than not, they are acting in the way that I believe they ‘should not’ and in a way that I ‘did not’. However, upon more deeply reflecting, it’s that feeling of parental helplessness – 1) finding it difficult to solve their problems and to end their pain or 2) believing that this is a reflection of their inevitable future failure due to my failings as a parent. This often leads to anger and anxiously trying to control the situation. Or it could go the other direction, more like helplessness and depression.
If I focus on the relationship here and now, then my communication becomes more about listening and potentially hearing a solution they already have. Or maybe they just want to be understood in this moment. If I focus on learning from this and preventing this in the future, we can work together to make our future better… together. If I can accept that this moment is exactly where I am supposed to be, then I can stop and look for the opportunity to pause, listen, communicate and collaborate.