Focussing on the Road Ahead

I remember the first time I was put behind the wheel of a car. It was in the country and I was given an empty stretch of unsealed road to roll along. The most challenging thing about was navigating a couple of huge craters in the middle of the road (well that’s the way I remember them ). Anyway, I was driving along approaching the end of the straight, roaring along at 15kms, when we started to approach a bend in the road. My uncle, who was sitting next to me, started to panic that I wasn’t going to turn the car around the corner and so he started yelling at me to turn and grabbed the steering wheel. Up to this point, I’d been doing pretty well, but now I panicked as well.  Being new to this, my brain didn’t really have it clear on which pedal was for the brake and which one was for the accelerator. In this atmosphere of panic, rather than stopping the car, my foot pressed down on the accelerator while he held on to he wheel. In a couple of seconds, we had swiped a small tree, before somehow we managed to regain control of the car. Luckily, the car came away with only minor damage and, most importantly only our ego’s were injured in the event.

I use this example because it illustrates how when we are motivated by fear, we can often act in ways that precipitate precisely the outcome we are trying to avoid. The classic is when, someone tries to talk you out of doing something that you are set on, and the more they interfere, the more committed you become taking your original path – now, not because it is the best path, but probably just because it is the one they don’t want you to take. You sometimes see this with horses being led into trailers. If the horse senses it’s being forced it will start using all its power to resist something which only a few moments earlier it might have done easily (equestrians are welcome to correct me on this. This is just my casual observation).

The difference can be very subtle. But, it’s the difference between gently guiding a process and applying to much pressure. The difference is all in the mind. When we act with faith and confidence, we bring a special energy to any interaction. However, when we act with fear, negative energies are created. This is why I say that when we interfere, we go ‘into fear’.

In this state of interference, lots of things start happening that precipitate the outcome you want to avoid. Your focus is on what you don’t want to happen, rather than what you want. You don’t drive along the road focusing on all the things you don’t want to hit do you? No, you focus on where you need to go in order to stay clear of collisions.

In fear, you adopt what is known as a defence physiology (imagine the way a boxer stands ready to fight). The crucial thing is that your spine will tense and arc in a way that stretches the spinal chord. Not great for optimal function or thinking.

Now, years later I started taking some proper driving lessons. In the first couple of hours I did the odd erratic manoeuvre, and in a much more challenging urban environment. But we remained free of damage. I don’t think I was any better, but my teacher remained absolutely calm throughout the lesson, regardless of what I did. He just directed me confidently through the streets, calmly instructing me to use this or that gear, etc..

Today, then play with this. Start focusing on what you want to happen in the day, rather than what you want to avoid. Think about how receptive and helpful people are (especially when you’re dealing with someone you’ve experienced tension with in the past). Combine the skill with a visualisation strategy before going to park the car in your favourite spot. Even if you encounter resistance through the day, by holding your focus on what you want just watch how your positive energy influences those around you. And you might even get that parking spot too!

I’ve strayed from the original topic, but really they are part of the same thing. You won’t feel the need to interfere if you are focused on what you actually want to experience, or receive, or the way you want a situation to develop. Because in having this positive focus, you contribute towards the building of a more confident mind that will be able to guide the outcomes you desire without the need for force.

This is very simple, but it takes lots of practice. So, be patient and practice some mental discipline. Most people in my experience are actually trained to focus on the negative, so be prepared for retraining to take some time.

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