by Donald Pelles, Ph.D., Certified Hypnotherapist
I am stuck in traffic on the Capital Beltway, on my way home after dropping my wife off at the airport. It’s stop-and-go: “go” being 5-10 miles per hour. At this rate it’s going to take me half-an-hour or more to go the 3 miles to my exit. I am shouting to myself: I don’t want to be here.
I am in the check-out line at the grocery. It’s the “express” line, but there are three people ahead of me and the clerk is taking forever with this woman who is so insensitive as to pay by check. “Come on, move it!” I say in my head, “I’ve got a client in 5 minutes.” I don’t want to be here!
I am behind a long line of cars at a red light. Why is this light so long, for a minor side-street? How long, Lord how long? is this going to take? I want to be home, eating lunch.
Do you remember being somewhere you don’t want to be, desperately wishing you were somewhere else? How did you feel? Impatient? Chomping at the bit? Stressed? Compressed, suppressed, depressed? It happens to all of us. It is maddening; we don’t like it!
First of all, are there alternatives? Do you have to be here? If you are stuck in traffic on the beltway, you might be able to get off at the next exit – when you get there – and go some other way. That may - or may not - be better than staying where you are.
In that line at the grocery store, you could just put aside the things you are about to buy and walk away. Yes, you are making extra work for a worker at the store, and you will have to make an additional trip back later to get those things, but is possible. You weigh the consequences of waking away against the consequences of staying in that line - and perhaps being late - and you decide.
So you may - or may not - have options, which may – or may not – be better than staying where you are.
Stuck here for real
For the remainder of this article, I will assume that you are stuck here for real, that there are no reasonable alternatives to being where you are for however long it’s going to take.
So – what to do? Stop it! Find a way to enjoy being where you are.
What?!! you say? How am I supposed to do that? I don’t want to be here!
The thing is, you are here and you are going to be here for a while.
Review the consequences – are they serious, slightly inconvenient, or trivial? Do what you can to lessen whatever negatives there are. If someone is waiting for you, call them and let them know you will be late (most of us have cell phones these days!). Make it right to the extent you can, then apologize for the inconvenience.
Hating it doesn’t help
You are where you are and you are going to be here for a while. Hating it, wanting to be somewhere else, will not help one bit. Worrying is not going to help (but see Consequences, above). Telling yourself you don’t want to be here is not going to help – that just makes it worse. These things cause you stress; they raise your blood pressure; they tire you out; they make you anxious and unhappy.
Knowing now that you have done everything that is in your power to do, enjoy! Breathe! In your car, listen to the radio, play music, listen to books on tape. Look around with your eyes and notice. Look at all the different kinds of tail lights you can see – tail lights are very interesting. How many different state license tags can you see, and how are they different? What are the fanciest and plainest cars around you? Pretend you are a professional photographer and think about all the artsy shots you could take from where you are right now.
In the grocery line, notice all the interesting things about the people around you. Make up names and biographies for them. Smile at them. Play with your cell phone. Read the headlines on the tabloids on display; pick up a magazine and read an article.
In the line at the light, look around, notice everything that you can. Don’t get too involved, because actually you are going to be moving pretty soon.
However you do it, find ways to enjoy yourself where you are. This is so much better than hating it. You will like yourself, like everything, a whole lot better.