This post is going to be a bit different from most of my others in that it is a reflection of a personal experience and a lesson in letting go of “buts”.
I want to start off by revealing a simple truth about myself. The fact is that one of my strongest saboteurs is the Stickler. This saboteur hates mistakes and hates it when something doesn’t go exactly the way it was planned or expected. It believes that right is right and wrong is wrong and that if something can’t be done perfectly, then it might as well not be done at all. This saboteur makes one feel constantly frustrated and disappointed by life, by oneself, and by others. It can really suck the joy out of the most wonderful and beautiful moments in life by creating “buts”. In my particular case one of the various ways in which this saboteur manifests itself, is by convincing me that in order to be happy, I need to have complete order, cleanliness, and perfection around me. In short, it makes me act like a clean freak, and when things are not orderly, clean, and looking “perfect” it creates a lot of anxiety.
This past weekend I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Fort Lauderdale, Florida with my two daughters for a mini Spring Break. Due to various logistical complications my husband and two sons could not join us, so my daughters and I had our first ever “girls only” vacation. Prior to leaving I found myself imagining how amazing everything was going to be. We had a reservation at a nice resort right on the beach, we had flights that worked well with our schedules, and the weather forecast looked lovely. I was certainly not expecting to have a run-in with my Stickler.
However, soon after arriving at the hotel and entering our room, we discovered that our bathroom did not look like the pictures we had seen on-line. It only had a tiny sink without a vanity. We did not have the walk-in shower I was expecting, and our tub didn’t even have a shower curtain. The saboteur-generated thoughts that began to invade my brain were something like, “How are you supposed to relax and enjoy the weekend with this bathroom?” “This bathroom is not what you signed up for.” “You don’t have any way of organizing and keeping everything looking neat.” “Everything is going to get wet, and it will be miserable.” These thoughts only got worse when I called the front desk to ask if we could be given a different room and was told they had nothing else available. It was late at night by that point, and we were all tired, so we just went to bed. Admittedly, I was not in a very good place at that moment. The next morning we woke up to a beautiful day. It was sunny and warm, with a gentle breeze coming off the ocean. The water was a deep blue and the sky was clear and bright. My girls and I were looking forward to a wonderful day of hanging out on the beach and the pool, going for a walk, and maybe doing some local exploring. However, I then entered our bathroom, and that was all it took for the shadow of the stickler to start coming back over me. This was not perfect and not perfect meant “bad”. There was no way the weekend was going to be as amazing as it could have been under these circumstances.
With a disappointed heart, I then decided we should go have breakfast. We opted for the hotel restaurant. As we walked out to the outdoor patio that faced the ocean and presented us with a glorious view, I was overcome by the beauty of the moment. Once we sat down I looked at my girls, and with gratitude settled into the experience. My girls and I started to talk, and one of them said something about how blessed we were to be there and have two days to be together. I agreed wholeheartedly, but then felt a somber “but” starting to form in my thoughts. At that very moment, I realized that I had a choice. I could choose to allow my stickler saboteur to take over my thoughts and generate buts such as, “yes, but if we were in a room with a nicer bathroom it would all be perfect,” or, I could choose to remain in gratitude for the moment of joy with my girls in a beautiful setting and let go of the buts. I, fortunately, chose the latter and truly did have one of the most re-energizing, joyous, and fulfilling two-day vacations ever. I intentionally and deliberately chose not to give my stickler the power to dampen my joy. I invite you to do the same, and let go of the buts!