Fight or flight to prove you are right?

Uncategorized Dec 08, 2021

I am human. I am unashamedly imperfect but proud that I consistently work towards being more self-aware, more present, more wholehearted. I do this for myself, for my inner peace, and so that I can contribute positive energy to my loved ones, to my clients and society as a whole. So, yes, I have the tools – I teach them, after all! However, even the teacher is constantly being tested, learning fresh lessons.

My test arrived a few short weeks ago in the form of a COVID Fit to Fly Test (PCR) - it's a lesson as uncomfortable and far-reaching as the nasal swab. I had booked a flight back to South Africa to visit my parents after our beloved dog, Clicquot passed. I had a profound sense of the fragility of life and wanted to comfort my parents and spend precious quality time with them for the first time in 2 years. I'd booked my flight, bags were packed, and travel documents, necessary COVID documents too, in duplicate, neatly placed in an easily accessible pocket. All boxes checked. I was heading back to Africa, and my heart was happy at the thought of snug parent hugs and the vast African sky. Although I am proficient at and love traveling, I found this trip particularly stressful considering how times have changed and the many uncertainties.

In hindsight, all the signs with there. My intuition was raising alarms as I raised questions to the nurse, who told me how to administer the PCR test before leaving the room. I found it odd that despite paying above normal rates (£135) and coming into a clinic myself, she was not in attendance, but she assured me it was standard and that the test would be acceptable. That night I barely slept. Something was not right. After trawling through the finest of fine print, it seemed that a self-administered test might not be valid. My result came through and it was negative, but I felt no relief that despite being morally right I could still be watching my flight depart from the departure lounge.

I couldn't risk missing my flight, so I arranged a second emergency rapid PCR test, which was nurse-administered on site at Heathrow. Another negative result. Well at least I definitely don’t have COVID. It turns out, if I had not listened to my intuition and not secured a backup plan, I would not have been on the flight. First lesson: always have a backup plan, even if you think it’s an overkill!

Now that you know the beginning and the end of my story let me fill you in on the testing middle bits, and the reason for this write-up. This event sent my anxiety and stress higher than the airplane I boarded. I experienced a range of emotions – time was of the essence when I realised the test may not be valid. My first was to fight. I wanted consequence for the over-priced clinic that not only performed a test that was not valid but also wouldn't accept any fault, let alone offer a refund. I wanted them to acknowledge that their website description was misleading and that they were taking advantage of already stressed and anxious travellers. However, this was not forthcoming, and the unjustness saturated me like an unhealthy, sticky syrup.

So, what was the teacher going to do when confronted with fight vs. missing the flight? I had to dig deep into the toolbox I teach, starting with the removal of my boxing gloves.

What was more important? Being right or missing my flight?

It was clear where the greater suffering would lie, and my reaction to the incident was the true test. How would I react when no one was watching?  I am pleased to say I passed with flying (yes, pun intended) colours by:

  • Trusting my intuition.
  • Adapting swiftly and definitively by securing a backup plan.
  • Being agile when life hurtled this curveball, instead of stubbornly digging my heels in.
  • Practicing co-regulation by speaking to friends that bought calming perspective.
  • Breathing deeply! A lot.
  • Letting go of the need to be morally right, choosing to move onwards and quite literally upwards.

The greatest battles we fight are our internal ones. In this life lesson, my inner peace won, and that is far more precious than proving to others that you are morally right – that's their journey, not yours. So, what was the overall lesson? I learnt that the toolbox of ‘survival tools’ we learn are not just theoretical. With practice, we will default to using them when faced with adversity. This makes us more bullet proof as we are able to control our reactions and regulate our stress, thereby protecting our happiness. Practicing holistic wellness works!

If anyone has any anxiety over travelling to South Africa or had a similar experience with an inadmissible PCR test, please feel to reach out to me. Sante!


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