There are two rambunctious toddlers living in the apartment above mine. Often it sounds like there’s an entire WWE wrestling squad slamming each other to the floor. Each day, I experience a cacophony of running, tumbling, and crashing that starts in the wee hours of the morning and goes well into the evening. For the past 18 months, I have chosen to say nothing about the absence of ambiance.
That’s because I understand what it’s like to live with young children. Decades after my two sons have grown and moved into their own apartments, it’s been both nostalgic and healing to have the opportunity to be the understanding downstairs neighbors. When my sons were toddlers, our downstairs neighbors often complained about the noise. I apologized and suggested a solution which I thought was magnanimous and brilliant. I suggested that they call me and mention where they were located at the time—in the front or back of their apartment. I told them we’d gladly move the kiddos to the other side of our dwelling so they would not be disturbed. This apology was met with indignation, “I shouldn’t have to call you in the first place.” I felt empathy when I realized that this person never had children as I calmly explained that I couldn’t strap my kids into seatbelts or keep them immobilized when they were home. Once they threatened to call the police.
So here we are 25 years later, on the receiving end of lots of thumping and clomping. Earlier this week, my husband and I got COVID. The first 48 hours after Jacob started experiencing symptoms, I was so proud of my bad-ass immune system as my home test and PCR test were negative. I gloated a bit as I silently repeated the mantra, No COVID for me! COVID? What COVID? No thank you. Been there already done that. However, by day three, the harsh reality descended on my limp body which was lying in a heap on the purple couch. The second PCR test told me what I already knew, I was down for the count.
Spending the past four days on the purple couch, I’ve had the opportunity to philosophize about many things because I’m not spending several hours a day on Zoom meetings or Soaringwords projects. There’s a construction crew drilling into the façade of the apartment building directly across the street from my living room window. It’s noisy in here. And, suddenly, those toddlers upstairs sound noisier and more wild than ever. Which reminded me of the concept of HALT—feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. HALT is used to help people check in on these basic needs and emotions to see how they are influencing their overall behavior, or motivating them to act out in a way that they might not otherwise. These and other common stressors depleted our reserves and make it more likely that we’ll do something we’d regret later simply because we’re feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.
This is the perfect time to PAUSE, an acronym which stands for Pause Action Until Serenity Emerges. So I paused. Or, to be more precise, I didn’t write a snarky note to put under the upstairs neighbors’ door. Instead, it gave me great satisfaction to craft that mental note in my head, advising them of the benefits of sound-reducing cushioned mats that might look ever-so- attractive throughout their home. Then I tore up the imaginary note and was grateful that I have a roof over my head and will not be calling the cops or adding to the stress of parents tending to active youngsters any time soon.
What decisions can you make today to practice magnanimity and grace? And what might you learn if you consider a situation from a totally different vantage point?
I’m sending you strength and love.
Soaringwords is the power to heal.