I just finished watching The Crown on Netflix. All I have to say is....Wowza.
I'm totally blown away by John Lithgow (from Harry and the Hendersons!) and his portrayal of Winston Churchill...
And by Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth.
How she shows plays The Queen stepping into her role and discovering her inner authority is simply mesmerizing.
But the scene that really struck me is the one in which the Queen is struggling with whether or not to speak to the public about something. Feeling torn, she asks her grandmother, the Queen Mum, for advice.
And her grandmother says:
"But to do nothing is the hardest job of all. And it will take every ounce of energy that you have."
BOOM. The type of wisdom only a grandma can give.
I immediately put down my bag of Pirates Booty and started thinking about the power of NON-ACTION.
You see, I LOVE getting things off my chest, finding my authentic voice and speaking my mind. In fact, it's one of my great passions to be able to help other people find their own true expression.
But when is it best to NOT react? To sit and observe? To do what the Queen Mum is recommending and keep your lips zipped?
Let's take an example from my own life.
I get really bad car sickness. A few years back, I took a cab ride where the guy was on a mission to either a) break a record getting me to my destination or b) make me super sick.
As he made fast turns and weaved in between cars, I felt my face get tingly and my forehead break out in a cold sweat.
Not a good look.
Feeling scared and out of control I yelled, "You're driving too fast! I'm getting sick!"
He looked at me through the rearview mirror and simply said, "There's a lot of traffic."
I spent the rest of the cab ride clutching my purse and counting down the seconds until I was on dry land.
And you know what I did right before I got out of the cab? When all was said and done?
I let the driver have a piece of my mind - I told him he was driving too fast and that he needed to TAKE IT EASY. And my tone was definitely NOT calm and gentle.
I mean - what good did that do?
Should I have said something? Maybe. Would it have been better to take a breath, count to 10 and then communicate? Most likely. Would it have been EVEN better to let it go and take a more expansive view of "Let's end this exchange on a calm note and move on with my day?" Most definitely.
I'm happy to report I've grown a lot since this bleak moment in my NYC cab-riding career. I now calmly tell drivers I get car sickness right away (communication is key!) and I rarely see the need to have any sort of heated exchange. It's just not worth it.
So while I don't agree with the Queen Mum's stance of, "You can't have any opinions, sit there and look regal," I DO believe that she's right on the money to say that NOT reacting can be the toughest job at all...
So let's take a cue from her advice to NOT react ESPECIALLY when we really want to blow off some steam.
Like when you want to write a strongly-worded email to a colleague or when you want to get on the phone with your friend ASAP and get things off your chest.
What can you do instead?
Wait 5 minutes before sending off that heated text to your brother. Go for a walk to clear your head before jumping on the phone with your work team. Schedule some self-care if you're snapping at your your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife.
Don't worry - you can still communicate your authentic feelings. Just take a second before speaking. Your words will be much more effective when you're not in reactive mode. And who knows? You may even decide to let the whole thing go.
And what can you learn about yourself in the process of waiting before reacting?
Probably the stuff you need to learn. When you need to let stuff go, when you need to have more compassion for people and when you need to communicate in a soft manner.
All of the waiting actually speaks volumes. But the sky's the limit in terms of what you can learn about yourself.
From my heart to yours,
I'd love to hear from you! Any tips you have for keeping your cool? Let me in on your secrets! Leave a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.