Mindfully Handling An Apartment Leak

About 1:45am Saturday night….

drip…drip…DRIP…DRIIIP…DRIIIIIP…

the sounds of water coming down woke me up out of my sleep. I sat up in my bed and looked around the dark room listening while my mind searched for answers of why I was hearing dripping water in my apartment. And most importantly where was it coming from?

I got out of bed. Shuffled over to the bedroom door, turned on the light, and peered down the hallway. Buckets of water had been streaming out of the hallway light fixture. My eyes grew wide and my body tensed up, as I watched water pour out and onto the hallway floor where a puddle was now forming.

Almost as if I was paralyzed, I stared for a moment or so, unable to move, completely in shock at what I was seeing. I finally ran to get a bucket and set it under the streaming water. My mind was racing, completely upset at being woken up out of my sleep to now have to deal with this very soggy problem.

Under grumbles of frustration and annoyance, I mopped up the hallway floor anxious to get back to bed and deal with the leak problem in the morning.

Not so fast.

Upon further investigation, I learned that the leak was not only streaming from the hallway ceiling, but outside my front door in the main area of the building, the storage room next door to my apartment, and in my coat closet. It was literally Niagara Falls everywhere I looked. 

So there was one of two things that could have happened at this point. I could:

A)  Calmly recognize the situation and choose to accept that these things happen and be grateful that it wasn’t worse. Or…

B)  Freak out! 

What do you think I chose?  If you thought I chose A, bless your heart!  I wish. No, I went straight to B and freaked out! Here was my lineup of thoughts in no particular order:

  • The hallway rug is ruined, now I have to buy a new one!
  • The moisture of the leak is going to make the apt stuffy and bring on mold!
  • Our coats are ruined, literally every last one!
  • We should’ve gotten renters insurance!
  • I hate this apartment!
  • And so on and so on….

The upset and tension erupted almost instantly; I could feel the stress enter my body and take control.  My body tightened, my brow furrowed, and I felt helpless.

I caught myself. I could see what was happening as I became reactive and let my thoughts spiral out of control.

I took a breath. And then another one. And then another one. A few rounds of deep breathing and a big hug from the bf was enough to bring me back to my center.

Suddenly the leaks throughout the apartment didn’t seem as catastrophic as I initially imagined. I began to accept the situation rather than resist it by fussing and complaining. I trusted that all would be ok and work out somehow. We would clean up the damage, throw away stuff that we probably didn’t need anyway, and move on.

The mind has a brilliant way of blowing things out of proportion. Although the leak in the apartment was enough to make anyone upset, we all have a choice in how we respond. Here are some lessons I’ve taken from the experience:

  • No matter how far you think you’ve come in your own self-improvement journey, there will always be situations that will trigger your old ways. Take them as opportunities to remind you that you are still learning every day even if the same lesson bears repeating.
  • Whenever you think you’ve lost something, remember what’s truly important. What we think we’ve lost is usually our attachment to it. Learn to let go and if what you’ve lost is replaceable, be grateful. (New rugs for the apartment and coats for next winter!)
  • Notice the thoughts that seem to take over and bring out the worse in you. Learn to see them as a separate part of you rather than the whole of who you are.
  • Let go of judgments or what the mind sees as negative. Sometimes when we lock in on something as negative, we close ourselves off from seeing the positive and we miss out on the bigger picture.
  • And finally, be grateful. No matter how “bad” things seem, always look for the things you can be grateful for.

Take it from me, a leak resembling a sprinkler system in the apartment is great way to mindfully teach you what you need to learn. But you can find this lesson in any unfavorable situation you encounter.

How can you be more mindful the next time life hands you a disappointment? How can you be more accepting and less resistant when you find yourself in a challenging situation?

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