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Taking My Own Advice

By Michelle May, M.D.

Arghhhh! Oh no!

thumb driveI was sitting at Sky Harbor airport waiting to board my 3½ hour flight to Chicago. For once, I had plenty of time and felt relaxed and ready to get some work done. I’d even spent a couple of hours before going to bed late last night wrapping up a few projects and loading the rest on a thumb drive to finish during my uninterrupted travel time.

Ahhhh. Life is good.

I thought about all the stressed-out passengers complaining about the hassles of travel as they tried to check overweight bags and get a 16 ounce bottle of mouthwash through security in their carry on (really). I was amused by my silent observation that apparently they hadn’t been on a plane since 2000. On the other hand, I felt grateful for the opportunity to safely cross the country in just a few hours, even if I had to do the sock-hop at security. As a professional speaker, I travel quite a bit, so not only have I learned to make the best of it, I kind of look forward to this catch-up time. Like I explained in my last post, stress is in the mind of the beholder!

I started groping around in my computer bag looking for the thumb drive with my file called “Road Work.” As my fingers dove into all the nooks and crannies, my heart and mind began to race. It gradually dawned on me that I would not find it since I’d left it plugged into my desktop in my office.

From Ahhhh to Arghhhh in 3 seconds flat!

The irony was not lost on me that one of the documents back at my office was the blog post, Stress Management 101, just waiting for a few finishing touches.

Arghhhh! Why did I let myself get distracted? What if I had check one last time to make sure I had everything? How was I going to make up for the 7 lost hours of productive airplane time? How could I have been so careless?

Oh yeah. Stress management 101. Time to practice what I preach and use the techniques that I had planned to share with you for dealing with stress (but will have to wait until I get back…arghhhh!):

Stop. Breathe. Get present.

What is happening right now, in this present moment?
What am I thinking? I paid attention on purpose to the dialog in my head – see above. What am I feeling? Anger. Frustration. Stupidity. Powerlessness.
What am I doing? Whipping myself into a frenzy with all the whys and what ifs.
Is it helping? Not a bit.
Is there anything I can do about this right now? Not much.

I can choose to either resist this or allow this. Resisting this is futile.
I choose to allow myself to feel frustrated but will stop beating myself up.
I choose to be compassionate toward myself instead: I had a lot to do; traveling can be stressful but at least I made it to my flight on time.

Maybe I could have my assistant email me a couple of the documents to look at on my phone.
I could write a new article.
I could follow a personal pre-flight check list in the future.
And oh! I had remembered to bring a book I’d been wanting to read but hadn’t had time for: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. (No. this irony wasn’t lost on me either.)

Take Action:
I’ll write an article and call it Taking My Own Advice.
Then I’m going to do a little reading and see if I can find out what those gifts are…

P.S. After I wrote the post above on my flight, I got on the train into Chicago. I noticed a man sitting glumly across the aisle. He was holding a FedEx envelope, and forgive me, but I noticed that the page in the window read, “If you take action now, you may still be able to save your home.” My heart opened to him. Not surprisingly, according to Brené, one of the gifts of imperfection is compassion. Yes, it is.



About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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