Today is day seven of a 21-day challenge that a friend of mine introduced me too.
Thankfully, it does not involve going three weeks without essentials like dark chocolate or a perfectly prepared steak. I have done that, many times, and let me tell you, it is hard.
The challenge: Every time you encounter something difficult or frustrating, pause, and say to yourself silently or out loud, “Why is this so fun and easy?”
There are oh-so-many examples from the past week during which I took up the challenge, but here is one standout:
On Thursday, I took my little car to the repair shop to undo the $2000 plus worth of damage sustained after being backed into by a huge pickup truck while parked by the curb. Arghh! Somehow the floor manager and I were at an impasse with me asking him to make sure that the mechanic check the car thoroughly for any structural damage, and him repeatedly replying to me that he did not “see” any kind of damage like that.
Mind you, I had just pulled the car into the lot, and he had just glanced at the side of it that was pretty severely crunched in.
Immediately, I could feel my face getting hot, my shoulders tensing and fighting words starting to take shape in my mind. Lightheaded and ungrounded (dissociation is the more technical term), I knew that I was struggling to stay present while managing feeling both disrespected and confused with a situation that I did not ask to be put into (Wahhhhhh!).
Right then, I paused, took a breath, and said (silently in this case so the poor guy didn’t think I was a lunatic), “Why is talking about my car repairs so fun and easy?”
Well, I can say for sure that I immediately wanted to giggle rather than ream him, which was exactly what my urge was a second before. Next, I repeated to him the exact same thing that I had been saying before, “Would you please make sure that the mechanic checks the car for any structural damage that may not be visible.”
His reply, “Of course.”
What? You’re kidding me? Immediately, we went from two people (or maybe I should cop to the fact that it might have been just me) in a duel standing a hundred paces apart ready to draw pistols, to two people on the same page in a straightforward conversation about a damaged, but easily repaired car. Something that a moment ago felt like a matter of life and death, became just what it was: a momentary encounter with a foreseeable ending and solution that was not going to endanger my safety in any way.
Somehow, the phrase “Why is talking about my car repair so fun and easy?” spoken right at the moment when tension was running high, interrupted an internal cycle best described as my nervous system preparing itself for one of three choices, fight, flight or submit. By distracting me momentarily from both my patterns and the charged verbal exchange, saying the phrase opened up space within myself for me to have a private giggle over both the absurdity and profundity of the actual sentence.
When I refocused on the situation at hand, and reengaged with less of a charge, my nervous system had stood down, and I was able to alter the tone of the external exchange with the floor manager without feeling like I was abandoning or selling myself out, and ultimately getting my car the thorough inspection it needed.
Really? Is it that easy? Well, maybe not always, but how will you ever know if you do not try it? Over the next 21-days, whenever something gets difficult or frustrating, try simply saying, “Why is ___________ so fun and easy?”
Pay attention to what changes.
Start. Right. Now.
P.S. Just as I was about to leave the shop, the floor manager took a rose from a vase, and handed it to me saying with a fatherly (I am serious) grin, “This is for you.”