Do you like to tell stories?
How many life stories can you recite? Stories can be exciting, funny, and even inspiring. They can also be depressing, painful, and discouraging. Stories can keep you stuck in a belief pattern or lift your day. They can keep you living in the past and wishing for a different future.
Let me tell you one of my own stories:
I sat in the car, put it in reverse with my foot on the break and thought, “Wait, where is my cell phone?” I looked around, then remembered, “Oh yeah! It’s on the hood of the car!” Late for an appointment, I jumped out of the car and jogged around the door to grab my phone.
It all happened in slow motion. The four kids I had in my car started screaming. I turned around and watched the vehicle creeping backward. Shoot. I forgot to put the car into park!
Survival instincts kicked in and I leaped back around the door in an attempt to jump back in the car and hit the brakes. I jolted and spun around when the crash of my door hitting the three large garbage cans standing beside the house startled me. They started to slide toward the fence. In that split second before the door pinned me against the fence and either smashed me or forced me under the tires, I managed to spin back around, slip into the driver’s seat, and hit the brakes.
The pounding of my heart matched the scream coming from my 5-year-old in the back seat. Even now I can feel the pressure in my head from the trauma of watching my life flash before my eyes.
I put the car in park and rushed to the back seat to check on my frantic little girl. Her brother and two cousins sat there in silence. Everyone was ok, physically. There was shock waving through the car, and I was the conduit.
Feeling better that we all survived the ordeal, I hopped back into the car and shut the door. Except, it wouldn’t close. I tried again. Nope. “What the…?” I inspected the inside of the door and found that the swing stop, I believe it’s called, snapped in two. Panicking again, I held the door as close to the car as I could and drove it to where I needed to go.
When I arrived, I got out of the car; shock rolled through my body again when I saw the outside of the door. I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed or thought to look before! The door was crushed, along with the front panel. I felt the blood drain out of my face.
What had I just avoided? What happened? How bad could it be next time? I was filled with fear! The shock was evident of that. I was also angry with myself that I forgot to put the car back into park before I jumped out. Why couldn’t I have remembered my cell phone and just avoided the whole scenario?
“I’m so stupid. Why can’t I remember anything? Why can’t I be aware and act appropriately?” “What will other people think of me?”
“I’ve destroyed the car. How much is this going to cost me?”
These and other negative thoughts raced through my head.
The fear and shock magnified as a result.
At that moment, I stood at a fork in the road; I had several options I could take for storing this traumatic memory.
One option was to relive this moment over and over in my mind. Keep that fear close to my heart to keep me “safe.” Every time I get in the car, I could use that fear and anger to help me be aware of my surroundings and make sure everything and everyone is exactly where they should be. Fear and anxiety could help me inch out of my driveway and make sure I don’t hit anything. And let’s take that one step further. You never know what could happen in the driveway, on the road, or anywhere!
Wow, that doesn’t feel very good. Right? Can you feel the muscles in your neck and shoulders tense up? Can you feel the internal shaking? I can!
Here’s what that looks like:
Reliving that moment over and over again.olding my breath every time I’m in the car. Shaking. Tensing up. Getting anxious and angry with anyone in the car with me. Yuck.
Here’s another option.
Tell yourself; “Wow! What an experience!”
Life is practice. It’s an experiment.
We practice all kinds of things; how to interact, how to judge, how to be healthy, how to be happy, how to express ourselves, how to drive with awareness (haha), and so many other things.
I was given an opportunity to practice my reactions to experience. I got to experiment with my emotions. I got to test how I store a memory.
What would a positive result of this experience look like? What kind of a road would I like to take?
I have always wanted to be more aware of my surroundings. I would love to have gratitude for this experience and create a peaceful aura around me where ever I go. When I get in my car, I am present. I am aware of what is going on around me. I truly Live by Heart and enjoy the peaceful moments I have in the car while driving to my destination. What a different feeling this would be!
What a gift it is to be able to choose how I am going to present myself in each experience I encounter.
Another outcome from my experience is feeling grateful for what I DO have, rather than focusing on what could have happened. Live by what is real rather than the what-ifs. I didn’t get pinned to the wall. I didn’t end up under the tires. I am healthy and whole, and my two children and nieces are safe. I have insurance to take care of my car. I am a better person having experienced this and learning from it. If that is what I choose.
I did experience shock and anger. That didn’t change. My reaction to that event, however, did change. And because of that, peace, awareness, and understanding took the place of fear, shame, and anxiety. Having these emotions opened up helped me to realize that I have carried the feeling of shock and trauma for many years. The accident gave me an opportunity to heal some old wounds, like childhood family trauma, divorce, and car accidents. Even minor things can be stored as trauma when you are a child. My little girl also built strength. She experienced something difficult and then saw evidence that everything turned out ok.
We have choices in life. We can choose to be weighed down by fear, anxiety, anger, and depression. Heaven knows I’ve lived in that space time and time again in my own life. I now choose to see those experiences and reactions as great teachers!
We can choose to Live by Heart. Choose to live in the moment. Choose to see each event in life as an experiment. A teacher. A gift.
I choose to Live by Heart.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you! Please comment below about a time when you could have gotten stuck in a past story, but instead chose to transform from the experience and stay present. Or if you have ever heard yourself telling the same story over and over again.
If you would like to learn how to resolve your past negative thought patterns, beliefs, and stories, and transform into a person who Lives by Heart, click here to learn more about our Live by Heart programs!