On Easter Sunday I found myself on a 4+ hour flight, squished into the middle seat, next to my daughter, Carly, at the window and a 6 foot hefty guy at the aisle. Carly could not get comfortable. I wish I could show you all the positions she tried; head on the tray, legs up on the seat in front of her, sprawled on me, turned around backward. She did not stop wiggling for the entire flight.
For a while, it made me tense. Ironically enough, I was watching the documentary Heal while all this movement was happening next to me. One of the central tenets of the movie is that being in fight or flight activated response is not good for your well-being. As I was observing Carly I could sense my anxieties flaring and, possibly because of the show I was watching, was able to calm myself down. The women in front of us probably wanted to wring my kid's neck, but would she be ok other than feeling annoyed? Yes. Ok, breathe.
Getting myself in a stable state allowed me to look at Carly with more compassion. She was distressed. Dysregulated, for those of you familiar with the mental health term. She needed to move, to run, to be distracted from having to sit for so long. And these things were pretty much impossible 31,000 feet in the air.
Simply by me having compassion for her in the moment, the energy between us toned down a notch and she was able to sit with the discomfort and get through the flight. I was able to speak to her in a normal tone and not get angry or raise my voice.
You guys, this is HUGE! This is such an accomplishment for me! Certain things we do to improve our well-being like weight loss or working out, are easily measured. You lost 10 pounds - yay! You ran a 5k for the first time - congrats! When it comes to mental health though, how do you measure it? Deepak Chopra is not going to pop into the aisle when the plane lands and say - look at you! You practiced breathing and compassion!
It's up to us. If we let these plane moments pass us by without acknowledging them, we may feel like we're not getting anywhere. We may feel stuck. Let's instead make a decision to celebrate these wins, to take pride in finding presence or our breath. Seeing these moments as wins will propel us forward and energize us to keep up the work.
How about this as a writing prompt: What small win on the path to personal growth have you experienced within the last seven days? Have an everyday win you'd like to share? Hit reply and let me know. You're doing a great job.