John is driving his car through a tunnel during rush hour. As he’s half way in, his engine begins to stutter and cough. His car finally jerks to a stop and traffic begins to build up behind him. He keeps trying to re-start the car, feeling anxious knowing that cars are backing up behind him; horns are honking; people are yelling. He keeps turning the ignition, muttering “come on, come on”. The engine sputters to life and the car jerkily begins to move. John spots a maintenance road just ahead and turns on it so he can get out of traffic and get help.
As soon as he begins to drive away, the engine starts to run better and it quickly returns to normal. John decides to drive around the maintenance road and reenter the tunnel at the beginning. The traffic is still barely moving. He then realizes that he is actually in the traffic jam that he created.
Several months ago, I watched a comedian tell this story. I apologize for not only stealing his material; forgetting his name, but also not doing justice to the humor of the story. However, after hearing it, I began to ask myself when I felt stuck, “am I causing my own traffic jam here?” (I am always looking for different ways to remind myself to be conscious of thought and behavior.)
Sometimes my answer is yes. Asking the question forces me to be an observer of where my energy is at that moment and what I’m thinking. It helps me determine whether I need to shift that thought to one that is more effective. Once I have my more effective thinking hat on, I can look at the tactics and strategies that may be contributing to a perceived jam. Many times it’s just my thinking that causing the problem and that’s easy to fix. Well, maybe not always easy but I do know how to fix that problem.
When I was younger, many of my most negative thoughts, behaviors and language involved being in real traffic jams. Several years ago I did a thought changing exercise to gain a more effective view of all of those people blocking my private traffic lane. Thankfully, I’m much calmer in traffic now. If getting conscious of effective thoughts can change how I view real traffic jams, it can certainly change those I create in my mind.
Are you creating your own traffic jam? Do you have a clear picture of where you want to go? Are you lights-on about the direction you’re heading? Are you focusing on thinking positive so you can see the possibilities? Do you have a strategy for shifting any negative thoughts to positive?
Stay in flow
And, I’d still like it if you stayed out of my lane…