Cheryl and I were once on a long airplane flight. It wasn’t the longest flight we had been on by far, but it seemed longer than it was. We managed to get the last seat in the back corner of the plane. There was no window, no reclining to the seat and limited leg room. I realize that’s typical these days for most seats, but this was the worst seat I ever had on an airplane and I’ve flown a bunch.
To make matters worse, the guy in front of me reclined his full 3 inches and wouldn’t sit still the entire flight.
I already knew I was semi claustrophobic, but this flight confirmed it. I thought I was going to die. I allowed myself to be psyched into a frizzy of miserableness. Cheryl tried to calm me, but I was restless.
I know it sounds extreme, and like I am a big baby, but it became that big of a deal for me at the time. I had to do something. (Even funnier was that I read a book about a WWII POW survivor on this trip. Talk about surviving – I am a sissy!)
So, how did I survive?
And why this post?
Because the way I turned an uncomfortable situation into a manageable situation was a lesson for me for other life situations. The kind that last longer than an airplane flight.
Here’s what I did:
Thought about destination. We were getting out of town. We were going somewhere exciting. It was a vacation. Better times were ahead.
Reminded myself this was temporary. I knew this would pass. It wasn’t my permanent home or situation.
Redirected my thoughts to something that I enjoyed thinking about. (Such as writing a blog post.) And planning a new strategy. And studying my Bible.
It made the trip more pleasant and helped me arrive in a better mood. Cheryl was happy about that.
But, as I said, it helped me process how I respond in other claustrophobic times of life.
When you feel stuck or like the walls are closing in around you – when you are miserable in your current circumstances –
Here’s what you do:
Look at the Destination – Think about where you’re going – maybe in your work or in life. Likely better days are ahead. If you’re a believer – a follower of Christ – you are living with some promises. But if we head ourselves in the right direction, and make wise and strategic decisions, things will likely improve with time.
(If you’re not on the right path – redirect is your step here.)
Remember the Temporary – Remember life has ups and downs. These days shall pass. good and bad seasons are a part of life.
And, as Paul said, even if troubles last a lifetime, these “light and momentary troubles are achieving for us a glory that far outweighs” anything of this world.
Change your thoughts – In many ways we are what we think about – especially in our emotions. Many times what we think about determines how we feel.
Again, Paul said, “whatever is pure, whatever is noble, if anything is excellent or praise worthy – think about such things”. Maybe we need to think better thoughts.
Often when we have a proper perspective we can sit back, relax and better enjoy the flight.
Just for fun, what’s the most miserable flight you’ve ever been on and what made it so?