View before Attitude Adjustment View After Attitude Adjustment
Things don’t always go to plan particularly when traveling. I am in week five of my “escape winter” trip. I’ve already visited Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, and I am now in Thailand. I feel very fortunate that I have taken eight flights to date and they have all been basically on time.
I have learned enough about my psychology to understand that I plan carefully in order to minimize anxiety. I am at my most vulnerable when things begin to go wrong and I can easily spiral into feeling overwhelmed especially when tired and jet lagged. When I lose control of a situation I can resort to being a six-year-old which was the age that I learned it was important to be in charge of the events of my life.
I recall my therapist being concerned about this saying it would only happen at that age if my needs were not being met. This is understandable when you take into account my mother had six children under sixteen and a newborn, needless to say there was little time for the six year old who learned to find his own way.
This coping mechanism served me well, I had a happy childhood and my younger brother and I would takeoff on all kinds of adventures and no one would worry. It is only as an adult but I have learned the downsides of my need to be in control. Underneath the composed adult lurks a panicky six-year old, that can manifest through loss of temper, even tears and sometimes flight from the situation.
Over the years I have learned to work with this temperament through becoming aware, working with my breathing, witnessing and owning my experience. Recently I spent the large part of the day traveling from Bangkok to Koh Lanta, a lovely tropical island in southern Thailand. The day had a stressful beginning with a 5:30 am check out, then being ripped off for my taxi, then arriving at the wrong terminal for my flight. However it all got sorted, I stayed calm and composed and by the flight arrived in Krabi, I felt prepared for the next ordeal – the three hour mini van ride from the airport.
Thai time is not the same as ordinary time – the ten minutes until the van arrived turned out to be an hour, once again I got overcharged but for an extra six bucks it is not worth a fuss. I stayed calm working with my breath and eventually was loaded in the back seat of an absolutely jam packed and I mean jammed with thirteen passengers all with luggage. We could not get in and out without an amazing effort.
All went well until we reached the sign that said “ferry tickets 300 metres”. From there it was stop and go for what seemed like hours. BC ferries it is not with a number of small flat decks that seem to spend half their time blocking each other loading and unloading. The hours ticked by. Once we got going he did not know where my accommodation was; tried to drop me off at the wrong place and finally after over four hours he dropped me about four blocks away gesturing frantically that it was just up the road.
For the life of me I couldn’t see it but by then he had gone. It did look vaguely familiar and sure enough after dragging my bag in 34c I spotted Lanta DD House ahead. I felt a sense of relief and indeed some satisfaction that I had made it without losing my composure or good humour.
Then they showed me my bungalow. Crash! My relief and humour disappeared; it was nothing like the one I had stayed in before – it was small, no furniture save a bed, the patio was cramped and had no comfy lawn chair, the safe did not work, and it faced on a yard where the family did laundry and cooking. I was crushed. The stress of the past ten hours suddenly seemed to overwhelm me. I did not want to stay here. I began to think about leaving, taking the ferry somewhere else, and anything to avoid the dreadful mini bus ride.
Then I stepped into the witness self and saw the six-year old who had been so good then had his expectations crushed. I took a few deep breaths and then realized it was time for an attitude adjustment. Sometimes we need to shift the lens that we are looking through. I needed to look again as an adult not a disappointed child. I had arrived in a tropical paradise; I was seven minutes walk from a beautiful beach; the bungalow had everything I needed – air conditioning, a kettle to make tea, wifi, TV, a fridge for beer and milk and it was spotlessly clean.
I began to smile as I observed how easily my feelings could take me down a rabbit hole that was simply a product of stress, anxiety and childish disappointment. I was going to relax and enjoy my R and R. Even the patio had its merits, I just had to change my perspective.
So it wasn’t the best of the bungalows – someone had to have it and I was the only single person here. Besides that was more likely chance than planning and it gave me yet another opportunity to unravel my psychology – one of my daily commitments. Suddenly I had my rose coloured glasses on and saw only a positive glow. Life was good.
NB Next I set out to avoid the minibus back to Krabi and now have a ticket on a speed boat service that will have me there in 90 minutes.