Tuesday, February 19, 2013

No Back-Seat Driving Allowed - Learning to Let Go


The other day, I went rock-hunting with my husband and son when we wound up driving along a skinny, steep road through the mountains. I had childhood flashbacks of looking over the edge from the backseat, afraid our car was going to tumble over the side.

I admit, I felt a bit of fear the other day, too, though I didn’t vocalize it. I knew I was being silly. What was interesting was that I had been in that same area with a friend about a week before, when I was doing the driving and I felt much more comfortable.

The event inspired me to start thinking about life and control, and all sorts of things.

While our car traveled down one road, this is the one my mind went down:

Think about the things you are afraid of doing in your life and ponder why they bring out fear. Is the anxiety about control or something else?

In many cases, the issue of letting go of control is the problem. But in all reality, that fear of losing control is only controlling you.

Take for instance, riding as a passenger in a car.

We give up most of our control when riding in a car, though it may be nerve-wracking to watch the other driver make moves you would never do, for instance tailgating or swerving in and out of traffic. (Please note that this is not a reference to my husband's driving.)

Or perhaps the driver speeds up to make it through yellow lights when you would stop and wait for the red instead.

Apprehension grips your enjoyment, interfering with your ability to enjoy the scenery outside, as well as the freedom of sitting back and letting someone else temporarily guide you.

Imagine now, that the driver has taken a skinny road up the side of a mountain. Beside you are unfenced cliffs and the driver is going faster than you would travel if you were in charge. Your panic grows. The threat of injury has increased and you feel more out of control than ever.

All the while, you have become too entranced by your fright to enjoy the beauty you are driving through.

These feelings of powerlessness can extend into many areas of life. Your child does something without asking you or your spouse is not there when you need him. You have not been able to control the path you’ve taken or outside circumstances; life hasn’t turned out as you imagined it would.

The first step to giving up this fear is to realize that the control is actually controlling you. Though it might feel like it is keeping you in charge in every situation you encounter (ie. “Don’t drive so close to the edge!”), it has taken away your ability to live in the moment and to enjoy the unexpected.

Photo by Linda G Hatton

Next time you are in a situation that makes you feel out of control, take a deep breath and shift your focus to the positives around you; the mountain hillsides, the beauty of having a free day to explore with someone you love, or the opportunity to face your fears and grow as a person.

Release the fear of being out of control. Release its hold on your life.


*****

12 comments:

  1. Afraid of losing control? Oh, never.... well maybe sometimes... Thanks for the reminder to just enjoy the ride.

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    1. Hey, I hope you are enjoying the ride. This weekend! ;-)
      Thanks for stopping by.

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  2. So true, Linda. There's so little we *can* control, really. Having adult children has taught me a lot about that! I think what you've said applies to writing, too. We can know all the craft in the world, but until we "let go" and let the writing happen, we won't produce anything with heart.

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    1. Yes, so very true with writing and parenting!
      Thank you so much for reading.

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  3. Beautiful photo, but I would have been afraid to drive by that too. In my case I couldn't do any better so I'd just keep my mouth shut and pretend to enjoy the view (or close my eyes) in the case of bridges.

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    1. LOL ... too funny! I did enjoy the view, just not what my imagination was adding to it. ;-)
      Thank you for reading, Kenya.

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  4. You are right! And I love your advice of enjoying the beauty around us and not letting our loss of control control us.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading - and commenting, Romelle. :-)

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  5. I almost always drive because of the stress you described. Some friends will risk an accident to be one car ahead and then will have to stop at the light and they are only a foot or two ahead. For me, the fear comes with loss of control when I am in a potentially dangerous situation. Enjoyed your essay, Linda.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Sabra! I'd say these rides are a good time to practice meditation, huh? :-)

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  6. You are in my head! Riding in the passenger seat in traffic and especially on cliffs and bridges always panics me. Thanks for sharing this wonderful advice on talu this week!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Debbie. :-)

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