On My Mind – 17 – Making the Invisible Visible

On my way to work, I have to exit the freeway relatively quickly. The offramp overlaps with the onramp and they are both very short. Every single time I make that merge, I am worried and stressed. Ever since I got in that accident a month ago, I’ve been even more nervous than usual. I keep thinking I’m going to get into an accident at that merge. So a few weeks ago I started this new habit: each time I make the merge successfully, I say “thank you for one more safe day” out loud. 

Brene Brown has this story in several of her talks where you see a super happy family in a car and they are singing out loud and happy and she asks what happens next and of course almost everyone says horrible things like they get in a crash, etc. Our minds are wired that way and she talks about tools to help with the foreboding that joy begins. She talks a lot about gratitude and building your catalog of good moments. And that when the tougher things do happen, that collection of gratitude helps so much more than the armor you’ve put on by stressing or expecting the worst. 

So this is my way of making my own collection of gratitude moments for this particular case. IF and when I get in an accident there, I know that I will say all the bad things to myself. I will beat myself up. I will say I am always so bad at it. I will go on and on. So to ensure my brain can understand that for the one accident I might have, I’ve had 1000 good merges, I need to make those 1000 merges real. I need to make sure I don’t take them for granted. I need to make sure they are visible. Which is why I say it out loud. I need to hear it every single day.

We often do this in life where we have the choice we’re making but not the invisible other choices we made because of it. Like I choose to go to Sydney for work which means I am choosing not to be with my kids or husband that week. I am choosing to pick this job over the other I am doing at the moment. I am choosing to add a bit more chaos to my schedule. I am choosing to make it harder for me to exercise. It’s still totally valid to go to Sydney, and I will, but making these other choices visible allows me to acknowledge them and take mitigation steps if I want to (or cancel the trip if one of these options seems more important.) Inaction is also a choice. If I take no action on exercise, I am choosing to get more unfit. Even if it doesn’t feel like a choice, it is one.

I’ve been working a lot on making the invisible visible so that I can continue to live intentionally and collect those gratitude moments. I know I will need them when the time comes.

On My Mind is a year-long project for 2018. You can read more about my projects for 2018 here.

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