Change your expat life
When Things Don’t Go as Planned
Recently, at the beginning of an extended stay in France, my family and I rented a small beach house by the Atlantic Ocean to quarantine before seeing family and friends. The beach was miles and miles long with barely anyone else around, and the idea was to learn how to surf as a family while working from home. We all wanted to learn how to surf, and we found an awesome surfing instructor. It seemed perfect.
The wave conditions were good when I headed out for my first surfing lesson, and it was phenomenal. I did not manage to stand on the board much, but I made progress and had a great time. I liked the vibe and enjoyed the group of people I was learning with. I came out of the water exhausted and sure that after 15 days of surfing, I would manage to get somewhere.
Except that it didn’t happen that way.
The night after that first, glorious day on the water, I developed an ear infection that I fought for the rest of the surfing vacation. It was “bye bye” to my plan to learn with the kids and try out something new this summer
Losing our balance — and our cool
Have you ever had plans that did not quite turn out the way you expected?
My summer was full of them. Imagine that you’d decided to rent this beautiful house by the sea. You anticipated a quiet, relaxing, and rejuvenating trip — one that you desperately needed! The day you arrive, the house looks nice, but you notice something unexpected: the house next door is a full construction site! At 7 am on the first morning, you hear the drill. Then workers park next to your house. And suddenly, instead of a quiet relaxing soundscape by the pool, your summer is accompanied day in and day out by the chatter of workers.
I’m sure you’ve experienced some version of having your plans turned upside down, too.
The first thing that tends to happen is that we fight reality. Our human brain tells us that whatever the unexpected change is, it should not be happening. Things are supposed to be different!
The natural reaction in these moments is to fight. For me, this is when I tell myself that the situation is unacceptable and ridiculous. I feel angry. In this instance, I thought about writing the owner of the house, complaining, and trying to stop the work. After all, it’s illegal during the summer months there!
But, as Byron Katie says so well, “when we argue with reality, we lose. But only 100% of the time.
Riding the wave of change — with intention!
The thing is, there are things we can control. Specifically, we can control our own thoughts. But there are many other things we cannot control:
- Our circumstances
- The things that happen in the world
- What people say
- How others feel
Just to name a very few!
The more energy we spend on the things we cannot control the more powerless, exhausted, and frustrated we become. And yet, don’t we all try to control these things sometimes anyway?
I know I do, and this is what I help client realize, too. Because by recognizing the desire to control things we can’t, we can actually decide how to think about situations that clash with our expectations. Having expectations and dreams is a beautiful thing. However, surrendering all our power to those expectations and circumstances can only create powerlessness, exhaustion, and frustration.
What we can do is look at how each situation is perfect for us. For example, the ear infection helped me slow down, rest more, spend more time with the kids and as a family. And this does not mean I will never surf — which is a topic for another article.
Accepting what is does not mean giving up. It’s the smartest way to save us tremendous time and energy so we can concentrate on controlling how we respond — with intention around what is happening.
Acceptance gives you the space to find ways to get where you want to be.
Intentionally deciding how to respond to what is happening in your life is a skill that, when mastered, can change everything in your life. That’s why my coaching methodology is centered around developing this critical skill.
If you want to gain control over what you want to create, inquire now and join in when the next class starts!
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