When I stepped into the grocery store yesterday, I was mad at myself for not squeezing my son’s annual ortho appointment in before 2016 ended. I had just picked up the mail and found the bill for about $300 from his January appointment. I knew that I blew that one and I was beating myself up over it.
Next thing I knew, I had inadvertently knocked a box of wine off the shelf in Aisle 1. I got the attention of a very friendly employee (a little shout out to Fareway) who acknowledged the spill and contemplated how we might make this work. I said I would stay by the spill so nobody slipped. It was during this wait that I participated in some “train the trainer.” I identified my negative frustration emotion (self-awareness) and told myself that I would miss out on too much during this grocery trip if I didn’t deal with it appropriately (self-management). I know it may seem silly to you but EI is a skill that requires choice and practice every day.
By letting it go, I could be present in the moment. I chatted with several people as they walked by the spill and I got to know the employee better who was cleaning up the mess. I would have missed out on all of this if I would have just kept playing the “I can’t believe you didn’t take Spencer in 2016 for a $10 co-pay rather than a $300 bill.”
This EI self-awareness and self-management applies to so much in our lives at home and work. How many times do you leave a meeting frustrated with a colleague or your boss? You go back to your desk and attempt to do the next thing on your to do list, but you keep playing the “What a jerk” tape over and over until you’re unfocused and your work is suffering. You take the same tape home to vent to your partner and consume your night. Next time this happens, stop yourself. Identify the emotion, intellectually decide what if anything you can do about the problem, and then manage yourself so that you don’t rob one more minute of your day.
I’m waiting now for some test results (not life threatening) for another son. I’m worried, but I can identify that worry and understand that it’s out of my hands. I don’t want to rob my teenage son from real time with his “Unhip Old Mom.”