As driving advice, this is pretty common sense, right? You always want your hands on the steering wheel, but most of all when conditions are tough. That’s when both hands will be firmly guiding every movement, right?
The thing is, when it comes to traveling the sometimes bumpy road of relationships with other people, many of us often let go of the steering wheel or swerve all over the place when the weather turns ugly, rather than doubling our focus and getting better control of things. It’s a bad habit of letting panic and primal thought jump in the driver’s seat – something that would be completely unacceptable when literally driving a car.
Folks with a positive mindset know that positivity is not all about simply being cheerful and always looking at the bright side of things. Sometimes, you are going to hit snags; you are going to have to slog through the muck and mire of unpleasant situations that will test you and those you have relationships with. This, in fact, is where the real value of a positive mindset makes itself so deeply felt: when the shit hits the fan.
Positive people, in such difficult situations, are able to do two key things:
(1) Stay with a difficult moment and see it through, maintaining a firm, patient commitment to getting to a resolution;
(2) When unable to do this for whatever reason (emotionally overcome or overwhelmed, for example), make it clear that they are not able to engage at the moment, and that they will come back to the table once they are ready.
Option 1 equates to the firm grasp of the steering wheel that a driver must have in more dangerous conditions. Option 2 translates to pulling over the car, shutting off the motor, and taking a breather when it is clear that this is the safest thing to do. Because we all have feelings that get the best of us sometimes – but we also always have the choice to distinguish between feelings and states of mind, and then eventually choose our state of mind.
A lot of folks don’t realize that! They think that somehow, that which is “primal” – that first, instinctive response you have to something – is the real way that you feel about things, and that somehow, everything you try to do after is not as authentic. Nonsense! The whole point of being an intelligent, aware human being is that you actually have an opportunity to manipulate your context – and that if you do this often enough, it becomes part of who you are, appearing just as fast as the other “fast feelings” that you have. If you can integrate healthy responses to stressful situations into your being, well … it’s just like driving and being a good driver, innately responding as safely as possible to hazards around you from a second-nature, integrated place inside yourself. If we can do this with driving, there’s no reason we can’t do it with stressful situations.
So don’t take your hands off that steering wheel, ok? Believe in yourself. After all, you’re all you’ve really got, and no matter what you do, things will hurt and feel uncomfortable sometimes. Often you’ve got no choice as to how and when such bad weather shows up – but always remember: you are in control of your own car.
Related post: It’s ok to be self-centered.