I am almost never late.
I have this fear of things going horribly wrong if I am late.
Even for the school run, where they're quite relaxed about lateness, I'm always 20 minutes early. As for classes and social events, I am always desperately worried that I'm going to miss something, and what if that something is “really important?!”
A little while ago, my other half was away with work, and I was feeling on the back foot with the chores and everything else that needed doing.
I'd got our three young children into bed, and was working hard to get everything done, but I knew I had my parent call group later on that evening. I realised that I was either going to have to give up on eating in order to make it on time or email in to say I wasn't going to make it at all.
But then I realised there was a third option.
I could be LATE!!
Someone had arrived late, with little fanfare, in an online classroom I had attended recently. I think that gave me ‘permission' to open myself up to lateness as a possibility, otherwise, I don't think I would have even thought of it!
I still felt I had to email in to say I was going to be late, even though I knew everyone would understand and not mind. In the end, I was only five minutes late anyway – and even then it gave me “the fear!”
I felt a bit shaky and hot and panicked, even having warned them that I wouldn't be there on time.
Of course, I then used my Listening Time to talk about the feelings this brought up for me!
In Listening Time there is an equal exchange of time between two adults, where one talks and the other listens and then you swap over. Parents can use them to raise issues that feel hard or are puzzling for us and to work through how we feel about them so that we can make changes and move forwards.
How History Repeats and Replays in Our Minds
I talked about how my mum tends to keep very good time (although nothing like her own mother, who was always about an hour early for everything!) whereas my dad is the complete opposite – always swanning in, completely calmly, at the last minute, even if it's for something like catching a plane. I've lost count of the number of ‘last calls' they had to put out for my dad at airports when we went on family holidays as a child!
I wondered about why I thought it was so bad to be late (even though I don't mind other people being late for things), and why I don't want to miss anything at all.
My listening partner got me to stand up and shake my body a bit to loosen up, and then asked me to try saying ‘I'm late! And I missed stuff!' very proudly.
It felt very hard to do, and I felt hot and shaky again, and sort of ashamed of myself, like I wasn't good enough if I didn't make it on time!
I said it quite a few more times, and we all laughed a lot about it before my time was up.
Less Stress and Less Lateness
The next day was a Wednesday, which is the day I have to get my two older children to school early for their choir club. I am usually quite screechy and stressed trying to get out of the door at the best of times, but more so on choir days!
But on the morning after talking about being late, I felt much calmer, and we all left the house quite happy – it really took the edge off that feeling of ‘must rush, must get there on time, hurry, hurry' which I often feel.
And, maybe because it all went calmly and smoothly, we actually got there on time anyway!
What drives your stress responses?
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