My puppy, Toby, loves to play fetch, so I bought a new toy- a rubber frisbee.
I know how to throw a frisbee. Like, I’m not very good at a lot of things, but I pride myself on my ability to throw a frisbee. I used to throw a frisbee around in the backyard with my sisters. Our throwing accuracy was so good, we could pass it back and forth over 100 times without ever moving our feet.
So, I threw this new frisbee for Toby to go fetch. Honestly, I was more than embarrassed when I saw it fly off in a completely different direction than where I had intended and it did not fly in the horizontal frisbee-like flight, but it turned vertical. Instead of landing flat on the ground, it rolled around.
Toby didn’t care; he ran to get it and brought it back to me.
I tried throwing it again. Same thing: crazy direction, weird disc angle, rolling. More embarrassment for me.
Again, Toby raced to fetch it without a care, having fun.
This happened several times. With each throw, my pride took a bigger hit and my embarrassment turned into anger. And after about 6 throws, I was fully angry.
And my anger started coming out at Toby. I was angry at myself, but I was acting angry with him, even though my anger had nothing to do with him and everything to do with me. My voice got tense. My body language changed into quick, sudden movements. I started focusing a lot more on me and caring a lot less about him. My patience was gone…and so was the fun.
Instead of having fun with Toby, I was overly concerned with my inability to perfectly throw a frisbee.
Have you ever experienced a time when your emotions regarding one situation overflowed into another situation? For example, have you ever gotten angry with a person on the phone, then hung up, and that anger you felt overflowed into your interactions with your spouse, kids, housemates? You were angry at the person on the phone, but you were angry with other people.
Have you ever been on the receiving end of that misdirected anger? How did you feel? Confused? Low self-worth? Angry in return?
Luckily, with Toby, I recognized what was happening inside of me, that my pride was hurt, and how it was affecting our play session. I laughed it off and reminded myself of the purpose of throwing the frisbee in the first place- it wasn’t to practice (or show off) my frisbee-throwing skills; it was for us to play fetch. And one of the purposes to play fetch was to strengthen our relationship.
What would have happened if I wouldn’t have recognized what was happening? What if I hadn’t laughed it off? How might that have affected our play session? What about our relationship?
It’s funny…I’ve been getting more practice throwing this frisbee as we play fetch, and now it doesn’t roll around when it hits the ground. But the thing is, I think Toby liked chasing it, so now I’m trying to learn to imperfectly throw the frisbee so that it flies at a weird angle and rolls on the ground.
Because it’s not about me and my pride about doing it perfectly and proving to myself (and anyone that sees us) that I can throw a frisbee well, it’s about something much more important- a relationship.
Have you ever lost sight of what’s important because you’re focusing on things that don’t really matter?
Have you ever let your pride get in the way of your relationships?
Can you laugh it off and chose to do it differently, or does your pride and perfectionism kick in again and you berate yourself?
Here’s to conquering stress.
The Stress Experts
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