The Ride of Your Life: choosing what drives you by Cinse Bonino
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Contents | Chapter 1
The Perfect Pictures
The What if?
Chapter 1 The Ride:
Imagine life is a taxi ride. You are a passenger, riding shotgun up front next to the driver. You are
not permitted to drive. You can look through the windshield to see where you are headed. You also can use the side view mirror to check out where you’ve been. You get to choose your driver, and
you can switch drivers any time you want. The pool of available drivers for this metaphysical cab ride includes the various emotions, worldviews, innate and learned tendencies, and other lovely or disagreeable elements that comprise you. If you neglect or refuse to choose a driver, your subconscious will choose for you. Sometimes your subconscious will choose wisely by accurately assessing what’s happening in the present. However, your subconscious often may make a harmful or regrettable choice if you are holding onto negative emotions from past events that mirror your current situation. Any misplaced optimism or panic on your part can also influence your subconscious to make unhelpful choices.
Once selected, your driver gets to choose how to handle any potholes, bumps, detours or roadblocks you encounter; and also decides how fast to go on the wide-open, smooth stretches of your journey. This can become problematic if fear is in the driver’s seat when it shouldn’t be. Fear is great in life-or-death situations, when you need a fight or flight response, or need to shake yourself out of feeling frozen or helpless. But fear shouldn’t be trusted to drive during circumstances that don’t fit these conditions. Fear should never be your designated, on-the-regular driver, or the default when you don’t know what else to pick.
Fear, however, should always be with you on your ride. Fear is useful. It is a necessary tool. Just as pain informs you when something feels off or wrong in your body, fear lets you know when something feels not quite right or horribly wrong in your life. If you attempt to journey through life without fear – if you refuse to allow it to come along for the ride – fear will carjack your taxi and attempt to take you somewhere you really don’t want to go. In other words if you fear your fear, you automatically put it in charge.
Fear will use every trick it can to convince you it is the perfect driver for almost any portion of your journey, because fear loves to be in charge. You and your fear have been together a long time and it has been paying attention. Fear knows all the steps to your particular, personalized dance of panic.
It is also completely familiar with the rhythm and timing of your freak-outs. Fear knows which tricks will work because it knows you. Fear will act as if any past permission for it to take charge means it now has license to take over anytime it wants, even if this is not what you had intended. Fear always wants more: more time in the driver’s seat; more attention from you; and more credit for saving your butt, even when it didn’t actually rescue you. But you can’t completely ignore fear. You need it. It’s vital. Sometimes it actually does save your butt. So what can you do?
Respect fear as the useful tool it is and keep it in the trunk, available for when you need it. Learn when you should let it move to the backseat to whisper a legitimate warning in your ear. Pay attention when fear’s warnings make sense to you but also recognize when fear is being a drama queen. Fear loves to
talk about disaster. It relishes imagining worse-case scenarios. Try to separate the blockbuster-esque hype fear pitches your way from the small kernels of truth hiding in its messages of doom and destruction. Refuse to unconditionally allow fear to jump into the driver’s seat just because it says it should, but at the same time, don’t try to completely eject fear from your ride through life. You need your fear. You also need to take charge of deciding when to listen to your fear.
Assume you’ll make mistakes. There will be times when you buy into false warnings. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Fear knows all your buttons and the best way to push each one. Fear shows disaster previews designed especially for you, as in: This message has been approved specifically to scare the hell out of you. Other times you’ll regret not paying more attention to what fear was trying to tell you, or you’ll feel stupid for closing your ears to what you didn’t want to admit was true. It’s a learning curve, but don’t worry, you’ll be headed in the right direction. But be aware, success rates drop if you repeatedly let fear jump directly to the driver’s seat anytime it mumbles from the trunk. Pay attention. Learn the tricks your fear uses to get you to believe inaccurate and overblown information. Learn how you convince yourself to ignore fear’s helpful warnings, especially when you feel too afraid to listen.
Remember fear is a tool and that tools are not inherently scary. If you borrowed a friend’s car and discovered a tire iron when you opened the trunk, you wouldn’t start screaming. But freaking out would probably be a completely rational response if a huge human were brandishing that same tire iron and chasing you with malicious intent. Fear will invite you to believe that your negative feelings are too overwhelming for you to handle. It will assure you it can save you from having to face the feelings you want to avoid. Fear will try to convince you it will be able to turbo-drive your life-taxi away from
everything that frightens you just as soon as you put it in charge. This does not make sense. Fear doesn’t get rid of fear. Fear generates fear.
Be very clear about fear’s place in your life. Don’t let fear scare you into letting it be in charge. Do allow fear to come along for the ride in order to caution you when it suspects something isn’t quite right. Permit it to suggest when it may be time for you to take an evasive action. Only allow fear to take the driver’s seat for a few moments in life threatening or other extremely dangerous circumstances. Then make sure it quickly relinquishes the wheel to intelligence, experiential knowledge, intuition, or instinct. Be warned: fear will do almost anything to convince you to allow it to stay behind the wheel once it gets there. It will offer cascading images of potential, worst-case scenarios hoping to paralyze you with dread. Things often begin to feel as if they are happening in slow motion when we freeze in fright. This means you may not be aware of how long you are actually allowing fear to be in control of your journey. You don’t have to be afraid of fear because you get to decide when to let it out of the trunk and when it has to go back. You also get to decide how you choose to respond when you hear what fear has to say. Pay attention when it gives you helpful information. Do some discovery when
you find yourself questioning if fear is freaking out unnecessarily. Only listen to fear when it’s actually doing its job correctly. Curb your fear when it becomes overzealous. Help your fear evolve into an appropriate and effective early-warning system, designed specifically for your life.
Remember: Most of the time fear should ride in the trunk.