We've all heard of distracted driving. But when a client said he had experienced "distracted spousing", I let out a belly laugh, because of course, I get it. Distracted spousing is when your front or backseat passenger, who also happens to be your spouse or partner, shouts out something and startles you. At best, after regrouping, there's a rolling of eyes and a deep sigh. At worst, the car veers into a curb and blows a tire, or crashes into another car.
I learned this the hard way with my own spouse. One day when we were driving on the freeway, a semi-truck full of hay passed us by. I let out a whopping, "HEY!", thinking I was being clever and having some car fun. (It always worked with my cousin when we were teenagers...and ok, maybe now too). It didn't work so well with my husband. He was focused on an important task...driving and keeping us safe. I was focused on finding some stimulation on a long car ride and having some fun with my husband. He didn't think it was very funny.
Fortunately we didn't hit anything or anybody that day. But I learned some valuable lessons:
1. Put myself in the driver's seat. I don't necessarily mean literally, although this is one way to stay stimulated on long car trips. When we give ourselves permission to see a situation from someone else's vantage point, we often see something we didn't see before. As a result, we build empathy, respect, connection.
2. Be mindful of my impact, in every situation. Sometimes our impulsiveness pops out of our mouth before our brain can tell us to think twice. That's part of living with ADHD. As long as it's hay or corn, it not so bad. But way worse things can come out of our mouths if we aren't mindful. Remembering that everything we do and say has an impact on those around us can help boost our awareness and invite our executive secretary to step in when needed.
3. Save the car jokes for long drives with my cousin. We expect the shout outs of "HAY" (and "CORN", which doesn't make sense but we still laugh!)
The bottom line: Your words have impact, even the smallest of them. When they come out of your mouth without a filter, clean up the mess, forgive yourself, and move forward. Life is too short to spend any of your minutes beating yourself up.