A lesson about control I learned from missing my friend's wedding

A few weeks ago, I flew home for a few days before going to my friend's wedding in Spain, whom I hadn't seen since I moved. The trip had been planned for a year and I was beyond excited. After spending a few days with my parents, I set off to Gatwick airport, suitcase packed, passport in hand, a big smile on my face.


When my flight was called I headed for the gate to start boarding. As I handed my passport over for the final check, the man hesitated. "Miss, your passport isn't valid for travel in the EU," he said.

"It's got nine months until it expires, I thought I only needed three?" I replied. With sympathy in his expression, he explained, "Yes, that's correct but your passport needs to have been issued within 10 years and yours in 10 years and two days. It's a new rule this year introduced with Brexit. I'm sorry".

He handed me back my passport and onboarded the remaining passengers behind me. I was stunned. I cried.

My brain started racing with a million thoughts... If only I had done this, if only someone had told me, what if xyz was possible.

And then I saw clearly two paths in front of me. On the one hand, I could cry, I could beat myself up, I could blame the airline companies for not flagging it to me, and I could sulk for the rest of the weekend. Or I could accept what had happened, and make the most out of a crappy situation.

The answer was clear. I headed back to my family.

I know that had this happened a few years back, I would have cried motionless at the airport for a good few hours and then moped for the rest of the week, jealous of everyone else who had been 'smart' enough to check the new regulations and make it to the wedding.

But I know now, that there are things out of our control, and no matter what we do, how much we huff and puff, there's little we can do. Yes, I could have checked the regulations in advance, but I hadn't and there was no point berating myself and making myself feel worse about something that had happened.

Like the Buddha's parable in which he shares how in life we can't always control the first arrow (the situation) but we can control the second (our reaction). The second arrow is always optional.

What was in my control was making the decision to be present and content, to see the silver linings. I wasn't in Spain sipping sangria with my best friend but I got to enjoy more time with my family, go swimming in the sea, explore my favourite hike, cook meals for friends and meet my new niece.

There are many things in this world that we can not control:

  • whether or not you get the job
  • whether it will rain at your wedding or not
  • whether your train is delayed or not
  • your washing machine from packing in
  • if people like or dislike you
  • who your family is
  • the passing of time (or past events)
  • when people leave this world
  • the exact outcome of any event, ever

But instead of focusing on that, learn to focus on what you can control:

  • how you spend your time
  • the thoughts you listen to
  • following your values
  • your self-care rituals
  • the way you speak to yourself
  • how you react to the first arrow
  • regulating your nervous system

The moments that show you how far you have come or teach you something valuable are worth acknowledging, sharing, and celebrating.

If you want to understand more about what is within your control (and so live with acceptance and ease) then feel free to book in your free chat with me below.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW6 & Lymington SO41
Written by Alexandra Taylor, Holistic Life & Mindset Coach for Women
London SW6 & Lymington SO41

Alexandra, is an experienced Integrative Coach supporting her clients in overcoming their inner critic and reaching their full potential. She helps people to make the changes that they wish to make so that they can lead happier, healthier and more balanced lives.

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