The Early or Late Conundrum

Always 10 minutes late? Or do you prefer being 15 minutes early? Does your spouse always have to do yet another task before leaving the house? Are you and your family quarreling endlessly about when to leave for an on-time arrival? First, stop fighting! Then, explore the possible reasoning behind each person’s viewpoint. Get curious, ask questions, and try to understand why people behave as they do. A glimpse into the past is the first step in getting to where you want to go with a smile!

It was a blustery winter afternoon in the San Francisco Bay Area; I was in my car’s passenger seat, waiting impatiently for my driver (my husband) to meet friends for a show in San Jose. As splotches of rain dropped messily on the windshield, I felt anxious about possibly arriving late. It was a Friday night with traffic, slippery highways, road ragers, etc. The plan was to leave at 6:00 pm, but at 6:06 pm, I was still sitting in a parked car in front of my home, thinking, “Wow, how disrespectful. A 6 pm departure is the same in every language, right? Why can’t he just be on time for a change?”

My thoughts screeched to a halt as I saw my husband walking hurriedly toward the car, covering his head with the hood of his rain jacket. But instead of hopping into the car, he flew by me, hauling the garbage bin down our long flag lot driveway. “You’ve got to be kidding,” I fumed.

He was in the driver’s seat eight minutes later, soaking wet, keys in the ignition, and announced playfully, “Buckle up!” At first, he was completely oblivious to my annoyance until he saw my face (after 30 years, he knows the look), which said it all, and so much more. Attempting to lighten the mood, he added, “Don’t worry, we’ll be on time!” “I hope so, ” I whispered while focusing on relaxation, my breath, and the melodic drumming of rain on the windshield.

At that moment, I had a choice on how to react. I could have become angry, ruining the evening, or stayed grounded and let it go. I decided it wasn’t worth the headache, so I let it go. The upside is I didn’t have to bring the garbage down the driveway in the rain!

Can we both be right?

Who is Right?

Before getting into yet another circular argument about his chronic 5–10-minute late performances, I asked Arda, “Don’t you think he’s being selfish and disrespectful? I mean, he did prioritize garbage over me!”

With a hint of a smile, Arda lets me in on a secret, “I used to be three or four minutes late for everything. Do you know why I used to run 3-4 minutes late,” he asked rhetorically. “I never felt as though there were enough minutes in a day to finish what I’d set out to do. I was in a constant state of anxiety about not maximizing my time. My yearning to be efficient pushed me to send out one last email, put away one straggling item, and complete one forgotten task.” 

“Arda, you sound like my husband,” I exclaimed. “I’ve read about people like you. I’m officially pathologizing your behavior, diagnosing you with one more task syndrome,” I joked.  

“Oh, really,” he asked with raised eyebrows. “I’m so glad I finally received a diagnosis! Thank you.”

He added, “Elizabeth, do you really think your husband is thinking, ‘Well, she hasn’t been angry in a while. I will take my sweet time tonight, so she’ll be upset and won’t talk to me all evening. Let’s do this thing!’ “

“No. Of course not,” I replied. “I never really thought about the whys of the matter, focusing instead on how frustrated I felt.”

Arda continues, “From time to time, I still struggle with being on time; I may occasionally run 1-2 minutes late, but I’ve realized this tendency results from my past conditioning. Thanks to my meditation practice and inward journey, I can resist sending that last-minute email or running into the kitchen to get that glass of water.”

“Well, Arda, you and I are exact opposites regarding this debate,” I admit. “I was taught if you were on time, you were already 10 minutes late. So, when I have a meeting, a Zoom client session, or a dinner date, I am almost always 10 minutes early. Why? I’d rather have time to spare than be held up by traffic, fiddle with tech issues, or deal with computer glitches. I want to be early to maintain my composure, get grounded, and appear together.”

What are you really afraid of?

Playing devil’s advocate, Arda asks me to visualize my being 5 minutes late for a scheduled Zoom call. “How do you feel,” he asks. “What are you really afraid of?”

With a pounding heart, I admit, “I feel extremely anxious, ashamed, and afraid my clients will think I’m disorganized, disrespectful, and incompetent.”

Challenging those thoughts, he asks, “Are those thoughts true? Will your clients really think that?”

“No. Well, I don’t really know, but I don’t think so.” I replied. “Now that I think about it, these thoughts belong to me, remnants of past conditioning. I’ve never really tested out the truth behind the fears. Like my dad, I associate tardiness with disorganization and chaos. I still carry those beliefs, which obviously are not serving me well.”

Then Arda threw a doozy at me, “Have you ever considered what a client might think if they ran late? Since you are strict with your time, they may feel awful about being late to one of your client sessions.

“Hmmmmm,” I ponder. “I never thought of that. It’s a possibility. Adopting different perspectives sure does help understand oneself and others, doesn’t it?” 

Putting the focus back on Arda, I inquire, “So, why did you decide to work on changing your 3-4-minute late tendency?”

He immediately answers, “Because I don’t like the stress you try to avoid.”

“Now we’re talking,” I exclaimed. “We are all so different yet so alike in many ways. Fascinating!”

 Returning to my 5-minute late husband ordeal, I now realize he was not purposely trying to be late or to get me to react. An entirely different story unfolded. Knowing him well and reflecting upon his own past conditioning, he was probably just trying to be ultra-efficient with his time by doing what he’s always done – fitting in that one last task. The first step to understanding the root cause of his behavior was getting curious, asking questions, and understanding the framework within which he operates. It all started to make sense.

I still don’t want to be sitting idle in a car waiting for him to finish up last-minute to-do items, but now that I know why he does it, we can have a calm and collected conversation. “Honey, we need to talk!”

In a future article, I’ll explain how we worked together to reach a  compromise that works for both of us and meets our communal needs. It’s a work in progress, but with a bit of digging and a few invaluable Rise 2 Realize communication tools, the results will astonish.

This article was created from the materials gathered in an Ask Arda podcast featuring Elizabeth and Arda Ozdemir.

Elizabeth is a Certified Rise 2 Realize Life Coach.

Arda Ozdemir is a spiritual mentor, author of the book Getting Unstuck and founder of Rise 2 Realize Life Coaching School and Ask Arda Coaching.

What’s Holding You Back?

The Power of Self-Awareness to Reach New Heights

In Arda’s recent book, The Art of Becoming Unstuck, he likens life to a hot air balloon ride. Even though I’ve read the book twice now, I recently found myself exploring his analogy further into what it means to live life as if floating seamlessly along, enjoying the natural beauty and colorful landscape from a most spectacular vantage point.  Whether conscious or not of our inner quest for life, we all aspire to find purpose, achieve our goals, and live life to the fullest.

Well, for some reason or another, we often fail to embrace our hearts’ desires as life’s challenges inevitably weigh us down and distract us from our happiness.   We feel heavy, exhausted, and unmotivated whenever we try to reach higher altitudes. Maintaining homeostasis becomes virtually impossible, with many ups and downs: even though some days may be carefree and joyful, many more are saturated with hardship and pain.    Reflecting on the hot air balloon ride, we seem to hover endlessly in lower altitudes, unable to take off toward our higher potentials. Little do we know our past experiences, repressed emotions, and narrow perspectives keep us at those lower altitudes, where the ride is anything but smooth.   Most days, we end up feeling lost, confused, and helpless. Limiting life patterns stand in our way, posing barriers to the harmonious, joyful life our mind’s eye envisions.  

All is far from lost.

The quest for life turns into the profound question of letting go of what’s holding us back and allowing the hot air balloon to rise into the atmosphere where a happier and more joyful life awaits. You may ask, “Can I let go of my past, conditioning, regrets, and character that kept me in lower altitudes?”   The answer is a strong yes, as breaking free from the shackles of the past is possible but requires dedication and commitment to a self-discovery journey. In The Art of Becoming Unstuck, Arda guides us to unimaginable heights that we can’t possibly fathom today.   The invitation is always there for you, awaiting your first step: Discover who you are under your masks of time-worn experience and relinquish your control to the winds of change. Soon, you will reach your highest potential and live life to the fullest.   

Ready? Set? Go!
The stronghold of limiting patterns affects our ability to move forward freely. In that case, you might have asked yourself, “How do I get out of my comfort zone into an existence of choice, harmony, and adventure? How do I step off the hamster wheel of life, going nowhere, where I continue sacrificing my happiness for the illusion of security?  Believe it or not, my friends, you can jump off that spinning wheel any time. Yep. The power is in your hands to wave goodbye to the mundane, have healthier relationships, find fulfilling jobs, and discover love and joy again. Even if you want just a little more than yesterday, life will open itself up to you if you dare take a few practical steps and apply a few powerful tools and techniques!  

Self-Awareness is Key.

Self-awareness is the first step toward personal freedom. It encourages your hot air balloon to slowly take off to higher altitudes, where your ultimate happiness resides, and self-defeating patterns dissolve gracefully.   So, heighten your self-awareness when a person or situation triggers you; pay close attention to your emotional reactions and the accompanying thoughts. Why? These situations allow you to discover and closely examine the root cause of your suffering.    When triggered, take hold of that emotional thread and pull gently. Work the filament until all the layers unfold, revealing your repressed fears tucked away deep within the subconscious. The next time you are tense, anxious, angry, or sad, ask yourself why you are so by inquiring about the specific thoughts preceding that emotional reaction.    For example, let’s say I’m walking into a meeting at work and sweating. I cannot breathe, my knees are weak, and I feel faint. What is happening?

My body reacts to my thoughts: “The moment I step into that meeting, everybody will look with critical eyes. Everyone will judge and challenge me, and I will look stupid in front of my peers.” Those voices in your head bear witness to your subconscious internal programming or the thought patterns, belief systems, and value sets you’ve learned and lived by your entire life.  



Once you become aware of your reactions, get curious and do a deep dive to discover your emotions (responses of the physical body provoked by a stimulus) and feelings (thoughts influenced by our emotions but generated from our reasoning).   Your thoughts ignite the charge behind your feelings, so you need to become aware of your thoughts precisely when your emotions flare so you can understand why you are reacting.   Little by little, you’ll slowly realize that your emotions are caused by your perceptions or how you see the world. How you see reality stems directly from the belief systems and patterns you’ve adopted from the beginning of time.   From this vantage point, you’ll uncover the origin or root of that first emotional hurt you experienced so long ago; it caused the first emotional reaction and defensive actions, which repeat themselves, forming our limiting life patterns.   As you continue to pay attention to and investigate the root-cause-effect relationship between emotions, perceptions, feelings, and fears, you’ll feel hopeful, more centered, and in control of your reactions. 


All the materials you need to rise in consciousness can be found in The Art of Becoming Unstuck, written as a workbook for life. Follow the exercises and practice sessions contained within its pages, and you will be on your way to rising above triggers and feeling liberated. The emotional trauma of the past will no longer weigh down your life; you will be on your way to realizing your full potential and attaining ultimate happiness.    As an ardent student of Arda’s work and a certified Rise 2 Realize life coach, only now do I realize just how heavy all the sandbags or repressed emotional hurts from the past I was lugging around. No wonder I was scraping the ground when I tried to fly high! The more aware I am of the root causes of my emotional reactions, the lighter I feel. My hot air balloon is climbing steadily in altitude, and the view is magnificent. Want to join me?

Purchase The Art of Becoming Unstuck  
Elizabeth Ouellette is a certified Rise 2 Realize life coach. She is accepting new clients: