I previously detailed the painful experience but happy end results of my recent vehicle incident.
But that was not the best part of the story. The best part was the life-changing experience of changing my mindset and actions behind the wheel.
Our brains are wired to develop habits over time. This helps us increase the number of decisions and actions we can make without thinking and analyzing our every move. One of my unfortunate habits was high-stress driving. Although I was usually highly attentive on the road, able to anticipate other drivers’ moves and react in time, the driving experience wasn’t always safe.
I wasn’t always courteous like I should have been.
Most of all, I didn’t really enjoy the ride. I wanted to just get to my destination and be done with it. If I could shave off thirty seconds from my commute, so much the better. (In hindsight, I reflect on how trivial my focus was.)
I had my mishap due to inattentiveness and poor judgment while talking on my phone. Then and there, as I sat in my very cold car waiting for the tow truck, I made a decision. There was no turning back. It was done. Over. Finished.
I was, from that point forward, a safe and courteous driver who enjoyed every moment of the ride.
You would not have known it, at that point in time, from looking at my ruined wheel. But it was true. I had a made a definite determination and resolution. Outward reality would later reflect my new found inner change.
But how would I make this stick?
I decided to tell myself, verbally, every time I got behind the wheel for 21 days, that I am a safe and courteous driver, and I enjoy every moment of the ride.
If someone cut me off or did something rude, this didn’t affect me one bit. If the traffic signal changed and forced me to stop more quickly than I would have preferred, I was undaunted. I was in control of my mind and attitude. I would not empower another person’s weakness or an external circumstance to control me.
This experiment has worked well for over a month. When I have occasionally found myself slipping into old habits, I have known just the solution. I have refreshed my memory that I am a safe and courteous driver who enjoys every moment of the ride.
I define myself. I talk to myself. I focus on what I want to be and what I am. I act the part. The process works wonderfully.
I enjoy the ride more. I am still attentive, but also relaxed. I’m sure my heart appreciates the lower blood pressure due to my new found habits.
No need to wait for a crisis. If the process worked to change my habits after a minor driving crisis, I can use self-talk and visualization to set myself up as a healthy and active person who eats well and exercises consistently. I don’t have to wait until a health or medical problem arises to proactively define myself as healthy and active.
We can change our habits. We have the freedom and power. It is the greatest gift that we have been given by our Creator.
What area of life would you like to change? You can do it. Make a resolution. Write it down. Talk to yourself about it every day. Be positive and focus on what you want, rather than on the negatives. Tell someone else about your commitment — someone who will build you up and rejoice in your progress rather than laugh and discourage you.