by Johna Hansen, LCSW
Have you ever stood so long in line at the post office that signs start to read “Pinot Noir” instead of “Please Note…”? That happened to me this week. After 30 minutes of being at the post office, my mind began to wander and I started to think about all of the other things I could be doing instead of standing in line. At this point, I start feeling angry at the postal workers and people around me. When I thought about what caused me to feel angry, I realized I believed the people working in the post office “must” move faster. I believed I “can’t stand” waiting in line. These beliefs fueled my anger toward the postal workers and myself and I thought I might become hasty with anyone in my path.
However, I was determined not to disturb myself further or say something mean to the people around me while I waited in line. Therefore, I used the REBT techniques I’ve learned to help me deal with my beliefs, feelings, and actions. Instead of continuing down a rabbit hole of must beliefs or having difficulty tolerating my frustration, I changed my beliefs to “I’d prefer the post office workers move faster, but they don’t have to” and “I can tolerate waiting in line”. My mind became clearer and I started to write this blog post. My anger turned to annoyance and I even shared a pen with someone standing in front of me. When it was my turn to get postage for my package, I was able to greet the postal worker with a smile. Since this experience, whenever I enter a post office (or anywhere else) with a long line I plan to use these rational beliefs in order to remain emotionally healthy throughout the time I’m in line.