I have a dear older friend who is an avid ballroom dancer.
She generally stays more active than most people and attends a lot of the social dance parties at local studios.
However, she routinely shows up anywhere from 15-40 minutes late to these parties, which only run 60-90 minutes.
Another friend, who’s known her decades longer than I have, says this is a lifelong pattern. This other friend just throws up her hands about the phenomenon.
No one really minds, except for my late-arriving friend. There are usually a host of good reasons why she’s late, which she is eager to share with us, even though it’s clear she’s upset with herself for being late.
We all used to gently tease her about it, but she’s sensitive and asked us all to stop. So we don’t say anything, but she has still continued to share all the good reasons she’s late…again.
Recently, she came to a couple of dances early, but there was no one she knew to witness it. So she excitedly told us about it the next time she was at a dance (late…)
At the following dance, I saw her arrive, smiled gently and said, “You’ve arrived!” This was enough to send her into another litany of reasons about why she was late and how she felt badly about it.
So I asked her a coaching question, “What would make you feel better about this whole situation?”
First she said under her breath, “Oh, that would be nice.”
Pause. “Oh, I feel badly about a lot of things,” she said.
Then she said, “Just stop talking about it.”
I nodded and stopped talking about it, as did she.
I noticed at the next social dance she arrived on time, before I did.
And neither of us said a word.
May we pursue our paths, and transfer the energy from talking about what continually makes us feel badly to taking the actions that will remedy it,