The plane was still on the ground, but my stress levels were spiking. I could feel cortisol dumping into my bloodstream, while I became fidgety, head on a swivel.
It was not a full flight. There were a few empty seats scattered around, but I was in a window seat crammed against a couple of larger than average people.
The voice in my head went nuts.
My mind planned my escape route. "Shall I simply mount these giants and do the awkward ass in their face shuffle, or do I ask them to get up?" So many options...
Hmmm... wait whats going on?.. WHAT THE #*#* IS HAPPENING?... is that someone taking my seat? We havn't taken off- that's against the rules! NOOOOOOOOO!"
Going with the Flow
After I calmed down, made friends with the person next to me, I made a conscious decision to quit that game of trying to get the best seat, and I just go with the flow.
My new flights strategy is to chill out, accept whatever I have got, enjoy the experience, get on with it. Sometimes I get the space I would have wanted anyway by someone next to me moving. Sometimes, I end up in the same seat but having great conversation. Sometimes I have the whole flight crammed in the corner... but I survive.
The interesting thing is that as soon as I realize I don't have to do anything, when I can just accept the way things are, the world suddenly becomes a more serene place. That transition is the shift from non-acceptance to acceptance, from swimming up-stream to floating down the river.
"Acceptance" is not the same as floating through life with no goals, dreams or will power to achieve things. It is about giving up the need to control everything in our lives.
The opposite to acceptance is "Control-Freakism". We have all seen or been a control freak from time to time.
In my past life, I was a massive control-freak. I see this as a heavily conditioned response especially to people who see themselves as perfectionist, proactive, go-getting problem solvers, or people who work in target driven, pressurised environments. Sound familiar?
Control is rooted in the fear of not getting a desired outcome. In control mode, when we struggle to exert influence over other people, ourselves, the seating system of airlines, the traffic, the weather- we become fidgety, snappy and narrow-minded.
Physiological responses kick in. Adrenaline and cortisol flood our systems, our palms go sweaty. All of a sudden we are not the most pleasant human being to be around. But in the mode of acceptance, we are serene, open to all possibilities, calm and present. We are we are going with the flow.
So the choice to try and control a situation versus accepting it is about that voice in our heads that is constantly bitching about making things a certain way, the voice in our heads (our ego?) constantly judging things as good or bad, and expecting or demanding the "good". Our inner control freak.
The Art of Acceptance
So how do we learn the art of acceptance? By learning how to flow like a river. What does a river do when it winding its way down a mountain and suddenly finds a big mountain in the way? It just gets on with its business, and finds a way around it.
So try these 4 steps the next time you are faced with a choice of whether to get on with it, or whether you are going to fight your way through a mountain.
- Pay attention to the particular moment when we are faced with the choice of acceptance or non-aceeptance. Awareness of this choice is the first step.
- Remind yourself that you have a choice on what thoughts and emotions you will have. You have the freedom of choice over your attitude in any situation.
- Try and see the situation from a third person perspective, so that you dont turn the way things are into personal insults.
- Ask yourself what reponse will create more flow and harmony in your life
This process is just a simple way to train a new auto-response in our minds. Rather than flying down the route of control-freakism and frustration, we can train our minds to have positive, contructive and compassionate automatic thought patterns. Like anything to do with mind training, this can be done through simple awareness and repetition.
Over time, our minds can be shaped and the voice in our head will become more constructive. We release ourselves from the tyranny of perfectionist expectations and.... we just go with the flow.