We drove away with our spirits high and adventure on the horizon, but it only took three hours to crush our dreams of smooth-sailing. We had just gotten back on the road after reviewing a super sketchy short-cut that seemed to add more uncertainty to our maiden voyage when we heard a loud BANG! Initially, we had no idea what happened—we didn’t know if we had hit something or if something fell off the trailer. Adam pulled over to the closest sliver of a shoulder only to realize that we had ripped off the driver’s side of the rig and blown a tire. It was one o’clock in the afternoon and the heat was approaching a scorching 103 degrees—on a Sunday—with the closest tow truck nearly four hours away. We quickly realized that it would be on us to get out of the situation—and, the first step, unfortunately, was to unhitch our 5th wheel and leave it on the side of the freeway. We headed to the nearest town to pick up the necessary tools to replace our shredded tires and, with some ninja-skills and a useless tow-truck driver, Adam got us back on the road with a two-hour drive still to go. Looking back, there were a few things that made our situation on the side of the road go from bad to worse. The following traps that Adam and I had fallen into before committing to try and stomp them out on our adventures are as follows:
- Finding Blame
- Speaking “death” over our circumstances
- Playing the “what-if” or “what we should have done differently” game
Blame, as a whole, has never worked in our relationship and has only ever been a blanket of shame, condemnation, and guilt. Luckily, neither of us had ever towed or been RVing, so we had no blame to dish out and, thus, had to work together to fix any issues.
As we headed into town after the freeway blowout, I started verbally vomiting a list of things that could go wrong by leaving our entire lives (possessions) on the side of the road. My wise eight-year-old quickly reminded me that speaking words of death wouldn’t fix our situation but, perhaps, finding an ice cream store would make us all feel better. In he midst of a vivid reality check, I was quickly reminded as to why we teach our kids not to speak death or vomit negativity over their circumstances. It is okay and necessary to speak feelings of pain, disappointment and anger in a particular situation, but speaking death usually leads us to a victim mentality or self-destructive attitude. It was uncomfortable and embarrassing to be stuck on the side of the road, having no idea as to how to fix our tires, but speaking death over everyone in the car wasn’t going to help in the least.
The final trap that we try to avoid is the “what-if game.” Looking back and talking through how we could have avoided a blow-out on the side of the freeway is helpful—just not in the moment. When you start processing how you could have avoided a mistake before it has been fixed, you just end up throwing more shame, blame and confusion on a situation that’s in desperate need of a clear head and calm problem solving skills. Yes, we could have bought new tires; yes, we could have double checked that we had a wrench for every bolt on the 15,000 pound RV; and, yes, we could have learned how to change our tires ahead of time. However, we didn’t do those things and the what-if’s of the world weren’t going to help us in the moment.
Living in 350 square feet has forced us to hone our communication skills and choose to work out negative thoughts with ourselves before actually communicating. I believe we have just begun to scratch the surface in regards to positive communication and are eager to learn more. What are some of your nuggets of wisdom when it comes to communicating well with others? Stop by my Instagram page @auerbach_adventures and let me in on your tips and tricks!!