Excited or Something Else?
Yesterday I was driving back from Orlando and I had a thrill! As many of you know, I moved to Florida at the first of the year, and as I think most people do, I am still noticing things that are different from where I came from. One such thing I have noticed is that the main highway from my home to Orlando is not situated like I'm used to. In my old neck of the woods when you got on the highway there are gas stations, restaurants, and hotels located just off the highway almost exclusively. It's not like that on this highway. So, the exciting part was that I was nearly out of gas and I thought I would just cruise down the highway and stop at the next gas station. Well, I started with 70 miles of gas left and at 70 mph that began to dwindle quickly. My car gauge goes offline at 30 miles left, so when I got to 35 and still didn't see a gas station I had a moment. I started to get agitated and for a split second panic, then I decided to let it go. I decided that it is not mine to worry about, plan out, or have a stressed emotional experience about what could happen. Then, I calmly voice texted for the nearest gas station and there was one 5 minutes away. I got off of the highway, got gas, and was on my way.
Maybe this doesn't seem like an interesting story? What makes it interesting for me is that in the past I would have gotten completely stressed out, panicked, maybe raised my voice, definitely would have cursed, and likely the outcome would have been the same. See, for most of my adult life I have been calibrated to high stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and worry. In fact, I would say that most of the emotional experiences were these and they were all based on what I thought was going to happen or what I thought should happen. I believe that most people are in reaction to what they think will be and less aware of what actually is. I know that was the truth for me. My life was lived in resistance to what is, needing what is to be a certain way, and I had a fantastical story at the ready for what will happen when it is not.
I was so good at making up stories about everyone and everything, for what I thought was trying to make sense of this world. I would tell myself that the person who is standing in the open parking spot next to their car while I try to park there and is seemingly unaware was rude and inconsiderate, when they may have just not seen me or been distracted by something. Or, maybe they are those things, they just don't care, so why do I care? Why was I always in such a hurry? Why did I blame others for my being late, say that it was because the person in front of me was driving slow, there was traffic, or the train stopped me? I still sometimes catch myself rushing to get somewhere, when it is irrelevant whether I get there sooner, why is that?
The reason I was having these experiences is because I was conditioned to by the adults around me, and then I practiced them. I was always 2-3 minutes late to everything in my adult life, until about 5 years ago when I questioned myself and began to choose leaving early vs. doing what I had always done. What would happen is that I would wait to leave my house in the exact amount of time that it took to get to my destination, not taking into account that it takes time to walk to the car from my house, park the car at my destination, and walk into my scheduled activity, thus I was always 2-3 minutes late. Or, the other thing I liked to do if I was early for something is try to cram another errand into my schedule so I wouldn't have to wait, and thus would be 2-3 minutes late. What's crazy is that because I was running late I would often show up frantic from rushing, and it would take me some time to settle myself to be present for whomever I was meeting. You can imagine starting a meeting this way, whether personal or business, did not make for a good feeling beginning, on either side.
This may sound silly, but I want to encourage you to question where you have conditioned responses to areas of your life that may be having negative effects? Things that you have practiced that once you gain awareness around them you can release them and begin to choose, and in choosing have a more positive experience. Don't even let me get started on how other drivers affected me, or my employees, or client complaints! They were all the same, a need to create those practiced, conditioned responses of stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and worry.
It feels good to no longer seek these experiences out, and I want that for you, too. I want to show you how to become aware of your conditioned responses, stop having low-level emotional experiences (anything that doesn't feel good) as your default, and learn how to begin to choose better feeling ones. Let's connect and heal this so that you can choose to feel good more often.
Erin "aware and choosing" Mac
P.S. This reminded me of that Seinfeld episode when Kramer was test driving a car and he and the car salesman decided to continue to take a chance to see how long they could drive on empty. It is here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuEdU_lrtZk should you have some time for comic relief.