Ever been around someone who complains about literally everything?
I sure have, and it’s HARD. I was listening to a friend describe a not-so-great interaction she had with someone the other day, and as she shared the details, it went through my head that this is someone who would literally complain about their foam on their latte being too foamy. (Quick shout-out to all my coffee shop, food service, and retail friends – I know you’re on the receiving end of this on the daily!)
As I thought about this individual, I moved quickly into a space of judgment. I mean, what ELSE is she complaining about? She’s probably demanding, impatient, rude to customer service representatives… And then I got a phone call from the installer at Lowe’s saying that my door repair was being rescheduled. AGAIN.
And I kind of lost my cool. Ok, I did lose my cool. “Uggggh! Are you serious?!? We’ve been dealing with this since October, and now it’s MARCH! They’ve already been to the house twice, and this will literally be our third reschedule!”
Then I paused, realized what I was doing, and immediately apologized for the word vomit I had just spewed all over the office representative who called. I KNEW it was not her fault. I KNEW she wasn’t the one who called out and was causing the reschedule. I KNEW she couldn’t really do anything other than help me reschedule. (And to that extent, I was spewing all over the one person I needed the most to help me!)
WTF, Nicole? I was turning into the “foam is too foamy” kind of person. The door was actually installed in January (ordered in October), but the trim around it was not the right size. It’s not like I have a gaping hole in my house open to the elements. Yes, it’s frustrating that it’s taking this long to get fixed. Also, I’m fully aware of the staffing challenges occurring across virtually every industry, impacting everything from direct service to supply chains. At the time of writing this, we’re also still in the midst of navigating our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, and people are still getting sick. What was making me so extra about this?
To be honest, it took me a while to figure out. Usually, I’m pretty quick to connect the dots and get to “Ohhh… that’s why I’m being a turd.” This time, however, it was more work. I went through my list of usual suspects:
- Was I hungry? Nope.
- Was I tired? No, feeling pretty good at that moment.
- Was I upset about something that happened prior to the call and still carrying that with me? Maybe a little.
- Was I nervous about an upcoming event or meeting? Nope.
So what the heck? I checked in with my frustration because it was way beyond where it normally is and where I felt it should have been based on the situation. Feeling frustrated is an uncomfortable feeling, and I don’t like sitting with it necessarily, but this time I really wanted to get to the bottom of it. So I made myself pause and let that frustration rise. I could feel it coming to the surface – orange-red and angry. When I felt like my proverbial pot was about to boil over, I checked in on my frustration to see what was making it bubble up so much. What was I reacting to?
Turns out I was reacting to the fact that I had this event – getting the door fixed finally – on my to-do list, and if it got rescheduled that meant it wasn’t getting accomplished, and it would still be hanging out on my to-do list. In and of itself, that’s not a big thing, so I waited and dug a little deeper. What was I REALLY reacting to?
I was feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work on my to-do list. I was feeling pressed for time and worried about how I was going to get it all done. It had absolutely nothing to do with the door repair and everything to do with my own control issues and mindset. So, I went back to my to-do list, revisited the items, the estimated time each would take, and their priority level. I checked this against my calendar and availability, and lo and behold – I was fine. I’m rarely ever NOT fine when it comes to this particular worry of mine. This is one of those stuck narratives for me about being BUSY and equating that to being pressed for time. The outcome is that I begin to REACT instead of respond. Sharpening my awareness of the real source of my frustration always helps me get back on even footing so I can be intentional in my response instead of simply reacting – and spewing!
I took a breath, figured out my plan of attack, and got to work. No spewing required. And the next interaction I had with someone that was outside of how I wanted to go, I remembered to take a breath and check in with how I truly wanted to respond instead of just reacting.
So if you’re having one of those “My foam is too foamy!” kind of days, I invite you to first be brave in recognizing that’s what is going on. Then, be gentle with yourself as you explore the why behind your reactions. Even just setting the intention to shift from reaction to response can propel you into the feeling zone you truly want.
Enjoy those lattes!