I’m staring through the window as my train is departing. A man is running after us on platform. I can see his face grimacing into a pure expression of anger and disappointment. It’s now turning into disgust, and clearly his mouth is hurling abuse at the train, the train guard, the heavens above and everything and everyone in between. I know how it feels to be late. Who doesn’t? Everyone of us will admit to having experienced missing a train, bus, maybe even a plane. The sense of disappointment and anger is ultimately with us, even though it may be hard to admit. It’s not a nice feeling, no matter how “cool” you are. If you do happen to be one of the calm and collected ones in situations when things do not go as planned or expected, you have my highest praise.
But what happens when we miss a ride? We keep looking at the departing train or bus partly in disbelief, partly in disappointment that indeed it has left without us. Then perhaps comes the criticism. Blaming the train for leaving earlier, criticising the traffic on the way to the train station, wishing we had left a bit earlier. Or perhaps we shrug our shoulders in acceptance of the situation and look at the timetable for the next scheduled service? Or maybe we get so angry that we end up being late for work, appointment or whatever awaits us at our destination. Have you ever called in sick or taken a day off just because you were so late that you simply couldn’t see a point in being there at all?
Whatever we do when things do not go as planned has its roots in how we reacted to similar events in the past and what we believe our response is. I say what we believe, because it is a belief. It is not the way we are. We believe that we are calm in a storm, or we go around saying to people that we have a very short fuse and cannot cope well with stress. If someone says that they do not like being late it invariably means that they have been late. Our past experiences do not automatically make us experienced in successfully dealing with a particular situation. What they do however is impress upon us a belief, or a misbelief if you like, that we are just the way we are and that nothing can be done about who we are based on this cache of past events.
Speaking about missing a train is one thing, but bringing up missed opportunities in life because of our misbeliefs is for many a taboo topic. God forbid that we get told by anyone that we have missed out on something due to a fault of ours. Yet often all we need is a little criticism or corrective feedback to prod us into taking a good look at what responsibility we have (not) taken for missing out on things. Sometimes missing out on things is a good thing. Not everything we think is good for us is necessarily so. Looking at every situation as it comes without linking it to how equipped we are to deal with it brings new experiences our way. Acceptance that we will miss some and then gain some is on par with turning around in the heat of a rash moment and responding with belief that we are always catching something. Even when we miss or miss out on something, we have caught something. It is our thoughts that feed our beliefs that in turn make us punish ourselves or others when mishaps happen. If we miss a train, we will perhaps catch up or meet someone we otherwise wouldn’t have seen or met. If we miss a meeting, perhaps we will learn to walk into a meeting room while the meeting is in progress and take the limelight in a bold manner, not having enough time to even think of stage fright.
Whether you catch or miss, you choose what happens next. Make the most of it.