We all have our routines: 6AM wakeup. Taco Tuesdays. Weekly date night.
Routines provides us with a sense of structure and familiarity. They are our warm blankets in the dark of the unknown, bringing us comfort in what can often feel like a world full of uncertainty.
The tricky part?
In both subtle and not so subtle ways, routines can also inflate our perceived sense of control.
When we engage in repeated behaviors that consistently produce predictable outcomes, it becomes easier and easier to believe that our lives unfold by our choice alone. We can get lulled into a false sense of security, thinking that because we can control our actions, we can also control the way the world responds to our actions. Because we can choose our behavior, we can also choose the effects of our behavior. Our lives should flow according to our plan.
You can see, then, why we get so thrown for a loop by life’s little (or not so little) inconveniences: The missed train. The spilled milk. The tough conversation we didn’t expect to have. The traffic jam. The car repair. The toddler tantrum in the middle of the supermarket.
Like cold water in our faces, these inconveniences are designed to wake us up. To make sure we’re paying attention to our lives. To keep us from getting too comfortable on the superficial surface of our daily grinds. Of course we resist them: We get frustrated when things don’t work out the way they “should.” We get bitter when we don’t get what we “deserve.” We push back against the people, the events and experiences that shatter our illusions of control.
These inconveniences are also invitations.
In these moments of ultimate confusion, despair and frustration, our presence is being requested.
And as is the case with so many of life’s challenging, frustrating, confusing calls to our highest growth, it’s how we respond that matters.