Course-correction

Have you ever felt like your life was going in the wrong direction? You’ve been living your life, moment-by-moment, and then one day you lift your head up and look around. “How did I get here?” you ask yourself. “This is not where I wanted to be. This is not where I thought I was going. When did I veer off course? What do I do now?”

When we’re moving in a direction that is not wanted, it can be said that we have momentum that is off course. So what do we do about it?

One choice is to stop the momentum. Like when driving a car, press the brakes firmly until you come to a complete stop. The benefit of stopping momentum entirely is that you can then reorient yourself and start anew in any direction. The downside is you will have to overcome inertia to get moving again. Starting from a complete stop takes extra energy. Try pushing a car at rest; it’s not so easy. But once it starts moving, it is not very hard to push it further. You can even get over a hump that way.

If you’ve been going in the wrong direction for too long, you might have developed a bit of anxiety around it. Anxiety is emotional momentum that is off course. But there’s a rub. If you stop your (physical) motion without shifting your mindset, you will merely suspended the emotional momentum. The anxiety gets put on a shelf. When you start moving again, it pops back in.

When that happens enough times, you might decide to stop and sit longer. The ride is too stressful; you get off of it completely. You take a break from trying to solve your problems or get your life moving in the right direction.

For a while, this works. You feel comfortable again. You can relax. You even begin to enjoy how the world looks outside of your window. And then you venture out and realize that nothing has changed. Life is just as hard as it used to be.

So you take another break and meditate on your predicament. That’s actually an oxymoron. You can’t meditate on a subject because the point of meditating is to get off of subjectivity altogether.

Some time later, you decide some determination is needed. You beef up the desire to move in the right direction, and eventually start anew. You are cautious, but willing. Since you at first notice that you are going toward your goal, you feel good. You might even feel elated.

The Universe, of course, responds and brings you signs. You can see that life is flowing again. You can feel the bubbles in your blood…

…And then a stiff wind hits you crosswise and you begin to veer off course.

What happens next?

Well, anxiety, the unwanted passenger, who sat patiently on that shelf, hops onto the hood of your car. He sneers as he crawls up toward you and then sprawls across your windshield. Pretty soon you can’t even see where you are going. You are still moving, but all you see is anxiety in front of you.

In a panic, you slam on the brakes.

If you’ve done that enough times, you gain sensitivity…lots of sensitivity. You so desire to avoid danger and pain, you begin to smell it a mile away. But what does danger and pain smell like from this distance? Anxiety.

Soon, it is the anxiety you fear, and so you become even more sensitive. “If I can only catch it sooner,” you plead.

Ask and it is given.

You realize that discomfort precedes anxiety. You thus notice the moment you start to veer off course. It is like the rumble strips on the highway; as soon as you drift out of your lane, you feel rumble, rumble, rumble.

But the now-long-term relationship you have going on with anxiety causes you to brake fast and strong…and frequently. Going the wrong way has been painful, you’ve learned enough times, so now all you want is to avoid…

hurting…

that bad…

ever again.

Soon, you feel like a fifteen-year-old, who is learning to drive. Your over-braking is making your neck hurt. You sit longer between attempts, but you are now losing hope. “Will I ever be able to get moving in the right direction again?” you vent.

However, if you sit too long, the rut grows tall around you…and the desire to MOVE again builds and builds and builds.

“I want movement. I want momentum. I want my life to work. I want to be strong. I want what I want and I want it…well…soon.”

You see, you’ve learned that when you want it now, that’s how you get yourself in trouble. That’s when you’ve veered off course those last dozen times. That’s when you bite at the first nibble rather then feeling it out first. That’s when you try to manipulate life around you…and then pay for it.

[Is your anxiety sitting right at your side now? Mine is!]

This morning, the Universe introduced me to a whole new concept. Actually, it’s not new at all. It has been there all along. It is called: course-correction.

“Cars are built with steering-wheels, remember?” the Universe says to me.

When you’re driving fast, and you panic, your first instinct is to brake hard. If you’re always panicked, you’re always braking.

“You don’t have to stop the car to change its direction,” the Universe reminds me. “All you need do is slow down enough to turn comfortably. You can turn when you’re going fast; it just pulls at you and makes your heart race. If you don’t want to be pulled that hard, slow down and turn: course-correct.”

“The beauty of your here and how is you have grown so sensitive, you have rumble strips all around you. When you’re going the slightest bit off-course, you know it! But fear not the rumble. It is merely your GPS—your guidance system communicating with you!”

Negative emotion is the rumble. Anxiety might be the name you’ve been calling it. It could be fear; it could be frustration; it could be depression.

It matters not what the rumble is or how it feels. All it is saying is: you are now thinking something that is pulling you away from what you want. If you follow that train of thought, it will take you further from where you want to be.

Have you ever had this experience: You are driving on the freeway. You are in your lane and the traffic is light. A car starts to gain on you from the rear. You see it in your mirror, and you are curious about it. Maybe it is a car you’ve never seen. Maybe it is a classic you haven’t seen a while. Maybe the paintjob is intriguing.

As the car pulls along side of you, you glance over at it…and then back to the road ahead. The intrigue grows, and since no one is ahead of you, you allow yourself to gaze at the passerby longer.

If you look long enough, you will find yourself drifting closer to the other car. It is human nature; in fact, it is how the whole Universe works. You move toward what you focus on…effortlessly.

When learning to race, you are taught to look away from those things you want to avoid. When you’re driving fast, you can’t allow movement toward obstacles to gain any momentum because you already have too much momentum to correct it except at the onset.

In this day and age, obstacles show up on our screens all of the time. We are constantly thrown images that tweak us one way or another. Life, for many, has a lot of movement and thus a lot of momentum. It can quickly feel like we’re out of control.

We can be quite happy and them—BAM—we’re enraged or horrified.

When you are sensitive, as I suspect many reading this are, you have an advantage (though it doesn’t feel that way). You CAN slow it all down; simply apply a little brake as soon as you feel off course.

If life is moving around you in a way that can’t be stopped (like when you’re at work or driving on the freeway), use your focus. You can look away from the obstacles and toward the direction you want to go in. Take a deep breath and remind yourself.

If you practice shifting your focus when you’re alone or in a calm place, then you have phrases handy to use when your car starts to rumble. A fifteen-year-old brakes hard because he is not used to driving yet. An eighteen-year-old doesn’t brake at all because he feels confident. An eighty-year-old drives more slowly. She knows that there’s no hurry. The rumble is not as fun to her as it used to be, so she is happy to go at a slow and steady pace while enjoying the gentle rocking and the breeze blowing in through the windows.

The ages above matter not. Maybe you’re forty-eight and have moments like all of the above. I suspect it’s all about the subject at hand.

For example, politics might be getting your goat right now. You feel fired up. You have a strong opinion and you’re ready to go head-to-head with anyone who disagrees with your view. You want to sway others’ opinions with your knowledge and perspective.

In relationship, you might be in the slow-and-steady lane. Maybe you desire a little more movement, maybe a whole new direction. Remind yourself that course-correction is always an option.

Course-correction is not about changing the world around you. When you’re driving, you don’t move the road into your path. You can’t make the traffic go away. You can’t put a bridge where one isn’t. You can’t get the construction out of your way. You simply need to travel around all of the obstacles. Sometimes you remember to check Google maps for traffic, but maybe you get stuck in it before you can avoid it.

Course-correction gets easier with practice. Subtle shifts are comfortable. Start early and often. Start your day thinking about where you want to be and how you want it to go.

Momentum, like many other things, is a powerful tool. It is oh so much fun when it is taking you where you want to go and at a comfortable clip. We all enjoy speeding down a clear road in good weather.

Momentum, which is taking you toward a scary place, is not so fun. Going too fast for the conditions can cause a bit of panic. And it never feels good to be out of control…unless you really trust whoever is steering the wheel.

Negative emotion is not the enemy. It is a powerful guidance tool. Yes, strong negative emotion can feel like pain…so catch it earlier. Course-correct. Apply the brakes and then turn.

The steering wheel is right in front of me, as it has always been. It is so odd to have completely forgotten about it. But now that I remember it is there, I plan on using it often.

After writing all of the above, I got a gift from the Universe:

Yesterday, I worked on setting up an appointment. As it turned out, I couldn’t get in until this morning. At the last moment, I remembered that I already had another appointment scheduled for 1:00. That meant I would be back to back to back.

Feeling rushed caused a rumble, teetering on anxiety.

Furthermore, in the middle of all of the momentum, I was inspired to write this article, which I didn’t quite have the time for, but did anyway. Now my day felt rushed even more!

The anxiety then grew stronger.

In response, I steered. I accepted what was, and rather then feeling bad about it, I focused on what I preferred. I desire ease. I desired maximum benefit from each appointment. I prefer having things spread out, giving me adequate time to prepare for each and absorb what each brings. My intention was not to change the current schedule (or make something happen in the future); it was simply to focus on feeling better, here and now.

I shifted my focus—away from feeling as if things had gotten out of control—toward all of my preferences and desires. Instead of using the brakes, I opted on the steering-wheel. I reminded myself that I asked for the movement and momentum I was now experiencing…and that things were certainly not out of my control.

Apparently I got myself aligned with my desires because the Universe stepped in and took care of things. My morning appointment got canceled last minute, postponed for another day. This allotted plenty of time to finish this article, post it, and prepare for my afternoon.

I convinced myself that it was all going to work out, and then it worked out even better than I planned!

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