“Ok, just push that button right there! There you go, you can do it! Almost there!¨, I said to my daughter. She looked at me and smiled, then promptly went back to playing with my wife´s sunglasses. I tried to remain rational and calm, but couldn’t push away the recurring thoughts of disbelief and worry that were swirling through my head.
As I stood by my car, I took a deep breath and looked up at the sky for a minute. You see, we were in a pretty typical parent conundrum. My toddler daughter was locked in the car alone with the keys.
It started innocently enough as my wife and I decided to knock out some chores early one weekend morning. One item to check off was to get the car cleaned at one of those 3 minute car wash places. As we were vacuuming the car out, my daughter was in high heaven crawling around all over the car. My wife put the keys in the glove box to keep my daughter from playing with them and doing something embarrassing, like setting off the alarm.
It was windy that morning, so we closed the doors for a minute while we were finishing up. In those literal two seconds, the little kid pushed the lock button on the door, leaving my wife and I standing on the outside. We still got embarrassed.
Once I had a client tell me he believes negative experiences are mirrors to examine oneself for signs of unmanagability. When people find themselves in situations where they are experiencing things they would rather avoid or getting feedback they would rather not have, it is all too easy to think of how unfair life is.
What this client was advocating for is to use these experiences for opportunities for growth rather than as anchors for resentment. He believed those moments exist to give people the chance to honestly appraise themselves and elevate their self-awareness.
Well, as I watched my daughter throw loose change all over the car, I wasn’t feeling too thrilled about looking in any mirrors. There was nothing to do beyond throwing a rock through the car window or waiting for a locksmith to arrive.
I’d love to tell you I handled the whole thing like a real professional counselor, but I’d be lying. Somewhat surprising to myself, I felt not only concern for my daughter, but also stress about the delay in our schedule the situation was creating.
I was struggling to be present even in a moment like that. My wife and daughter, for their part, were cool as cucumbers through the whole thing. Finally, after nearly 30 minutes, my wife was able to encourage my daughter to open the door, without anyone shedding a single tear.
I’m a big believer in the concept of looking in mirrors. In hindsight of the car wash incident, it was clear that I needed to do a couple things differently for my own growth. Simply put, I needed to practice slowing down and paying attention to how I’m doing.
My hope for you is to learn where to look in order to see yourself in the mirror.
If the glass is foggy or just not even around, counseling exists to help you clear things up. Developing this practice of self-appraisal is a struggle for many people. In addition to counseling, I think meditation is a really good tool to develop this skill. I´m not anything close to a meditation guru, but there are many easy and quick ways to try it out (in as little as 5 minutes). Here is a short list of popular apps that each bring a different approach to meditation.
So, in conclusion, never trust little kids, and always look for the mirrors in your life.