I’m Late!

by Johna Hansen, L.C.S.W.

I’m late!

I’m late!

For a very important date!

No time to say “hello”, “goodbye”!

I’m late!

I’m late!

I’m late!

Do you know these lyrics from the song in Disney’s “Alice in Wonderland” sung by White Rabbit?  If you’ve ever heard this song before, you can sense the urgency in White Rabbit’s voice that White Rabbit needs to get somewhere fast.  Often, when I’m running late for something, I think these lyrics repeatedly on my way to where I need to be.  Also, when I’m late, I’m often reminded of the phrase: To be early is to be on time.  To be on time is to be late.  To be late is to be forgotten, unforgiven, or unaccepted…

Concerning ourselves with lateness and the potential consequences of being late are fine and could be helpful, if we would indeed like to be on time or if the consequences are serious, such as losing a job.  In addition, desiring to be on time is also fine.  However, these thoughts and desires can become a problem if we start judging ourselves unhealthily for our (or others’) tardiness.  For instance, at times when we think about being late to work, we might start believing that it will be the worst experience of our lives, that we won’t be able to withstand the people looking at us as we enter the room or people asking where we were and we could start feeling anxious.  While being anxious, we might take longer to get to work due to forgetting something or forgetting to get off the subway train or make a correct turn.  Or if one of our colleagues is late to work, we might judge them by telling ourselves that they are the worst person in the world for showing up late to work since they must never be late.  Most likely we would be feeling an unhealthy amount of anger and we might even act inappropriately by yelling at a colleague.

If we’d rather remain concerned and not feel anxious and if we’d like to minimize our directional mistakes on our way to work we need to start believing that it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if we’re late and we’ll be able to endure people looking at us once we enter the room.  If we’re more likely to judge others for being late, we need to remember that everyone is human and capable of making mistakes, and that people may not have the same moral code as us regarding tardiness.

Johna Hansen

 

 

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