Not too long ago I rented a car while on vacation. I went to the rental car agency and picked out a nice SUV from the line of cars. After the agent and I checked out the vehicle for bumps and scratches, I signed the contract and off I went to find my husband who was waiting at baggage claim with the luggage. As I was leaving the rental car parking lot and entering the loop that returns to the airport terminal I could feel the car dragging. Something wasn’t right. The car wasn’t easily picking up speed. There was resistance when I applied the gas. It took me a couple of minutes of listening, examining, and looking to realize that the car’s emergency brake was engaged. A big helpful hint was the indicator light—a big red (!). Once I understood what was wrong I pulled the lever to release the brake. Whala! The ride immediately became smoother with less stress on the vehicle.
Life is kind of the same way. As humans we often navigate our lives in a manner that author Mary O’Malley describes as low-grade struggle. We tend to go about our day with the emergency brake engaged. When the emergency brake is applied we can still function (just like my rental car) but we allow resistance to keep us from operating at our true potential. We too have an indicator light that alerts us to our resistance. Our alert shows up in the form of an emotion such as stress, frustration, annoyance, and overwhelment. This undercurrent of negative emotion holds us back from our free flowing energy that is natural to us.
This begs the question of how do we release the emergency break?
First, realize that you have the brake engaged. Gently notice the resistance in your experience. Notice the not so good feeling. Notice that something is off. Notice the emotion and how it feels in your body.
Secondly, allow it to be alright that the indicator light is flashing. Be proud of your self for being aware of your state of being. Show yourself compassion for feeling bad. The negative emotion is alerting you that you have some resistance.
Thirdly, see if you can determine when you inadvertently applied the brake. What limiting thoughts (a limiting thought feels bad when you think it) are you choosing to think? These limiting thoughts stop the natural flow of happiness and peace. Use your curiosity to see if you can notice what thoughts applied the brake.
Finally, disengage the brake. By understanding which thoughts feel bad when you think them you can choose to disengage from those thoughts. Because now you know, these negative thoughts are making for the bumpy ride. Release the resistance and allow your natural flow to dominate. Your natural flow is smooth, relaxed and agile.