Can I be honest here?
Today was not one of my better days. I started by dropping a bowl of tuna casserole resulting in glass and casserole all over. Next, I backed the car into the garage door resulting in $1200 of damage to the car. It is easy to say the damage is done now get over it if it is someone else; however, I kept these events alive and active for hours. The next day I was still attacking myself for these events. As I was driving to the body shop to get the estimate on the damage, I kept reminding myself that dwelling on this was wasted time. Not only was I keeping it alive and active, I was expanding it. By lunch time on the second day, I had worked up a great story. There was clearly a problem with the car that caused the mishap. I was upset, but that was not my fault either. My being upset was caused by the people around me not acknowledging the pain I was in.
I was headed for a great pity party. Somehow, I slowed down enough to realize that I was alone at this party. I had caused the events, I had embellished the events, I kept them alive, and I had this feeling that I could end this party. This reminded me of a management class I had taken many years ago called “The Care and Feeding of Monkeys.” The class had nothing to do with monkeys, and I think it was based on an article in the Harvard Business Review back in 1974. That course was all about delegating and management style but had some similarities to what I was feeling now. In this case, I am creating the monkey and feeding it. I needed to get back to my party, but the spell had been broken. Party was over.
I had wasted almost two days feeling bad. All that self-mastery training tossed aside. Why do we keep doing this? I suppose there are a few out there that love to beat themselves up and really enjoy the pity party, but I always felt that I was not in that group. In my earlier blogs, I stated that this was the year I was going to be more positive and find joy. It just seemed to be so difficult to accept that it happened, and it is over. It was easy to tell people that I was over it but not so easy internally to believe that. I was still trying to prove that it was not my fault, or that I had no choice. The truth is, I was rushing when I took the food out of the microwave and I was not paying attention when I backed the car out.
The moment of truth came when I arrived at the body shop. The first question was, how did this happen? Well, it could be vandals, or a defective tailgate, or bad lighting. As these thoughts swirled in my head, I caught myself saying it was me. Nothing fancy, I just backed into the door. I felt relieved as that monkey jumped off my back. The body shop manager thought that was the best story he had heard.
I have no idea what the circumstances will be for your traumatic event, or if you ever have had one. But if you do, I know how you can save yourself some time…quit feeding the monkey!