Life is rich with possibility, adventure and the joy of asking ourselves questions which allow us to expand and grow into better people. Yet, with all the profound questions I could be exploring in my own life, the one that I ask most often is…
Did I unplug my hair straightener?
Yup, that is the question I most desperately want answered. This is how it often goes for me when I leave my house in the morning:
1) Standing at my elevator… Is my straightener unplugged?
Ahh nuts… zip back to my condo to check.
2) Getting into my car in the underground garage… Is my straightener unplugged?
Ahh nuts… zip back up the elevator and home to check.
3) Drive 5 minutes away from home… Is my straightener unplugged?
Ahh nuts... zip back home, park the car, pop up the elevator and home to check.
4) At work… Is my straightener unplugged?
Ahh nuts… stop torturing yourself and no, you will not call your superintendent to check,
they already think you are loopy!
Even when I take the time to double check before leaving my house, I will get 10 steps away from my front door and have to go back and check again! Second guessing myself has become my most practiced talent. And of course being someone who likes to perfect her craft, I have not limited second guessing to just my hair straightener, please, that would just make me an amateur. My other paranoid doubts include (but are not limited to):
- Is my stove on?
I actually had to stop making tea in the morning before leaving for work and instead have become friendly with wonderful local Tim Horton’s ladies.
- Did I leave my iron on?
I now iron my cloths at night so I am more than clear that it is unplugged when I leave the next morning!
- Did I lock my car?
I have left malls, work, friend’s homes and Dr. appointments quickly to re-lock my car. GOD BLESS the remote control for making my obsession easier! It really is quite the enabler.
I have even gone so far as to feel justified with all this second guessing paranoia since Rachel set the apartment she shared with Phoebe on fire by leaving her straightener turned on. And one thing I take seriously, are the lessons I learn from watching Friends!
When I lived at home with my family it was a lot easier. Since I was the first person to leave the house there would always be someone ready to take my call for the much needed check (starting to sound like an addict here). The blessed call would happen 10 minutes into my drive to work; the timing of these calls were so reliable that my brother started to use the phone ring as his alarm clock!
When I first began this morning ritual with my family, the conversation went like this:
FAMILY MEMBER: Hello.
ME: Hey, sorry, but could you check and make sure I unplugged my hair straighter, I am pretty positive I left it turned on downstairs on the shelf.
FAMILY MEMBER: Absolutely, no problem.
They understood, they were empathetic and they were more than happy to settle my mind. But...after this call became a regular occurrence il was diminished to:
FAMILY MEMBER: Got it.
They hang up.
They didn’t even say hi, or give me a chance to talk. I call this efficient, but I believe the eye roll they would attach to the ritual would say otherwise!
SO WHAT IS MY PROBLEM?!
WHY DON’T I TRUST MYSELF?!
My problem is that my auto-pilot is a fantastic employee. She allows me to think about everything else besides what I am doing because she apparently, has my back. She knows my routines, she knows how I operate, and she is so gosh darn good at her job! But, the true effect of her handiwork is that,
she allows me to be anything but… present.
Although she thinks she is doing me a great service, she makes me paranoid, anxious, and contributes to me wasting hours of time by doubling back and checking her handiwork. I have come to truly see how EXHAUSTING it is always second guessing myself. And my biggest concern is,
WHAT ELSE AM I MISSING OUT ON?
So, how did I solve this? How did I attack the monumental task of breaking this well developed habit? I have only come up with one possible solution,
Be Where I Am.
I thought the idea sounded simple enough, after all, it just requires me to be in the moment I am currently am in. But it has turned out to be the Everest in my life. To keep my thoughts on my actions as I do them, to be aware of words during conversations, to trust that I can figure things out as they go instead of keeping myself ahead all of the time? Yup, not easy.
I have learned a number of things about myself while attempting to stay present, but the most annoying is that I am always distracted! The upside has been, the more I continue to work at focusing on what I am doing at any given moment:
- the calmer I am.
- the less need I have to rush.
- the more am am genuinely part of conversations with others.
- the more time I have because I am not wasting it worried about things that haven't happened yet or back tracking. Or shall I say LESS back tracking... I'm still working on it ;-)
- the more details I notice about people, things, and experiences I truly never saw before. Turns out, it really is all about stopping to smell the roses!
- the more I enjoy my food!
- the MORE JOY I find… and for me, this is always the goal!
People constantly complain that time goes too fast, or there isn’t enough time, and so often we are left wondering where the last decade disappeared to. It is no wonder I feel this way, I am so busy rushing through life and distracting myself I am missing out on so much that is going on around me. It isn't times fault; it's mine.
So, although I appreciate the support of my auto-pilot, she is being relieved of some of her duties. She is welcome to come along for the flight to help me out, but from now on, I will be the one flying the plane.