My friend Chana Jenny often writes about lessons she absorbs from things that happen in her daily life. I enjoy reading her inspiring posts and when I read the following one, I asked her if I could share it with you. She graciously agreed. I hope its message of monitoring how we speak to ourselves uplifts you as it did me.
Yesterday, at 4:29 I got a text message from my kids’ speech therapist asking why we hadn’t shown up for our 4 and 4:30 appointments.
What 4 and 4:30 appointments?!
Yes, I did remember setting up appointments. But for some reason, they weren’t on my calendar.
The speech therapist was rightfully upset. Her schedule was full, she would have seen other clients if she’d known we weren’t coming. And, since we were her final appointments of the day, she ended up waiting around when she could have already been on her way home.
So I went back and looked at my calendar, and figured out what had happened. A few weeks ago I had moved our appointments from an earlier day to yesterday so my two kids could go together. And later on, looking at the calendar while I was distracted on the phone, I had seen yesterday’s appointment and thought (with 1/8 of my distracted brain) that the new appointment was the one I’d canceled, so I crossed it out.
Anyway, you can imagine how I felt, and the kind of mental self-flagellation that ensued.
“How could you have missed 2 appointments? Why did you cross out that appointment! What a scatter-brain you are! Hopelessly disorganized!”
And then the phone rang again. It was the speech therapist’s secretary. Calling to give me a piece of her mind.
Which led to more: Scatter-brained! Disorganized! Hopeless…
And then I caught myself.
And remembered one of my all-time favorite workshops with one of my favorite rabbis called: “The Belief Notebook,” in which every day we would write down a false belief we were having that had been triggered by a certain event. And then we would write down a true belief regarding the upsetting event to replace the false one.
During the workshop, I spent several months responding to my false beliefs with true beliefs morning after morning. And it made a huge difference, reducing my daily self-flagellation dramatically.
So this is what I did yesterday.
I thought of my disempowering false belief: “I am hopelessly scatter-brained and disorganized.”
And I thought of the trigger: Not taking my kids to their speech therapist appointments.
And I thought of a true belief: I am almost always on top of appointments. I show up more or less on time, and cancel at least 24 hours before if I can’t make it. But occasionally, as a person juggling a lot of schedules and information, there are mess-ups.
Ahh, that felt much better. True beliefs generally do.
Over the next few hours, I felt the false belief (“scatterbrain!”) bubbling up within me. But with a firm hand I replaced it with the true belief (You’re not scatterbrained, you’re just human).
Anyway, I wanted to share that with you, for the next time you start thinking stuff about you that isn’t true 😀.