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Releasing the Brakes

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Recently I had a series of episodes with a car that required me to make several trips to repair shops. The visits weren't the worst part of the experience, since the people who worked in them were generally helpful and became friendly as the visits continued.

In fact, I was maintaining a relative state of calm until the car was delivered, presumably fully repaired. However, driving it produced a mysterious flapping sound that shredded my previous serenity.

Between the Friday when we picked up the car and discovered the flap/thump and the Monday when we returned to the auto shop, I imagined costlier and costlier scenarios, massive inconvenience, appointments missed, plans changed, general upheaval and disruption. Instead, the problem turned out to be simple and easily corrected.

"You see?" I told myself. "You worried about something before it happened. Why do you do that?"

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Running on Automatic

Because I worry much less than I used to, I notice when worry or any form of negativity sneak into my life. And it does sneak, a habit that masquerades as normal behavior. It feels as natural as breathing. Breathing, however, is a far more beneficial habit than many of the ones we acquire as we travel through life.

Your habit may not be worry. Some people are so convinced they aren't creative that it would take massive mind bending to convince them that they have vast, untapped reservoirs of creativity. Some believe that they should feel rejected when a relationship ends. Many people feel that if any part of their lives isn't going as they would like, they must focus on that aspect and ignore everything that is going well. Others think they can't be happy if anyone they know isn't.

We do this because it's what we learned. I was well trained from early childhood by a parent who saw danger and disaster everywhere. He in turn had been trained, and so on.

It's useful to discover that you've been participating in a family tradition. However, the way in which some people use the results of their research can have a negative effect. In seeking the reasons for why they are the way they are, they unintentionally provide reasons for staying the way they are.

"I can't help it; my father worried, and his father worried. Maybe it's genetic."

The most effective way to avoid becoming mired in the past and making it your present is to view your discoveries as encouragement to create your own future. This can happen when you take the approach that whatever you learned while growing up was only beliefs and that beliefs can be changed.

"Great! Nowhere is it written in stone that people have to worry. It's just something I learned, and I can unlearn it."

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Safety Brakes

This is the first step towards freedom. The second step is to realize that, regardless of the particular beliefs you absorbed as fact, you learned that it was normal to accept limitation. Restriction has become so invisible that it feels comfortable and familiar.

It's as if when you learned how to drive a car, your instructor never told you to release the emergency brake when you drove. Suppose you drove for years with the brake on, wondering why your vehicle never delivered the power it was supposed to.

One day someone gets into your car and asks, "Why do you have the emergency brake on?"

And you say, "That's an emergency brake?"

The person says, "Don't you know how it slows you down when you drive with the brake on?"

And you say, "No one ever told me that."

He says, "See what happens when you release the brake."

You do, and suddenly you seem to be driving so fast, and it's scary to have so much power and energy surging through the car, a force you have to somehow direct. You're really worried that you'll have an accident.

At that point many people just put the brakes back on again. Maybe it's slow motion, but it's safe.

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Slow Acceleration

In releasing the brakes, acting deliberately and slowly is key.

Sometimes when people realize how limiting their habits of thought and behavior are, they decide to do a massive mental housecleaning. This isn't a good idea.

Don't decide to give up every limiting habit you've developed over a lifetime. Don't decide that from this moment forth never a negative thought will enter your mind or pass your lips. This kind of extremism will inevitably lead to backsliding, extreme discouragement, and little enthusiasm for change of any kind.

Even if you choose one area of life to clean up, putting too much attention on it can make it resistant to change. When you always notice that you worry, it seems as if you're worrying all the time.

A softer approach is much more effective. Remind yourself of the mantra: "It's only a belief, and a belief can be changed." View it as a passing cloud that only briefly obscures the sun.

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A Smooth Ride

Accentuate the positive. Your limiting habits will fall into perspective if you pay closer attention to all of your positive traits. Maybe you worry, but you're kind to animals and small children; you appreciate others' achievements; you never forget your mother's birthday. . . .

I recommend every day writing down ten things you value about yourself, whether or not they're the same ten things at first. Writing the list is analogous to physical exercise. Your self-appreciation muscles will get stronger as you go along.

At least once a month do something new. Read a book you never would have read. Go to a new place. Volunteer to do something. Learn a craft. Take a workshop. This helps you to stretch your boundaries and create a new life for yourself.

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Energy Regulators

Even after someone tells you to let go of the brakes, you may not easily relax into the new way of driving. Green calcite helps to release the inner brakes, easing rigidity and tension.

Because it may take time for the inner, mental habits to release, you may also need to have some help in the area of patience. Beautiful rhodonite, a deep pink and black, can help to remind you to give yourself a break.

Tiger's Eye, a crystal for both patience and timing, helps you to make the most of your journey, knowing when to use and when to travel slowly and carefully.

Smoky Quartz both grounds and energizes. Maybe you've gotten to feeling a little depressed about how slow things take. Smoky quartz helps to gradually bring you up to speed.

A trio of Bach Flower Remedies can help to realign your internal system.

Rock Water is the floral counterpart to Green Calcite. It's for people who've always driven with the brakes on, who hem themselves in with ritual and routine. They may experience genuine pain when asked to vary their schedule. Rock Water helps them learn how to flow.

Impatiens corresponds to Rhodonite. "I want to change yesterday, and I want to get to all the destinations I've missed. And I'm especially impatient with myself for having missed out on them. If only I'd known about that stupid brake." If this sounds at all familiar, reach for this essence.

Gentian: Discouragement can become a habit when life seems to move slowly without getting you anywhere. Gentian helps to accelerate your spirits.

Three playful creatures from Wild Earth Animal Essences can also be helpful.

Hummingbird moves with great speed, and doesn't mind flying backwards. This bird helps us to experience the sweetness of life.

Otter doesn't care that much about getting anywhere. This animal specializes in experiencing the joy of the journey.

Dolphin is comfortable in the elements of both air and water, teaching balance and flexibility.

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