There are two types of people on planes. The people who freak out over turbulence and the people who ignore it completely. Turbulence used to give pretty bad anxiety. That was until I heard a pilot say that going through turbulence was just like driving down a bumpy road. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong, it’s just what comes up on the path. That analogy gave me a lot of ease.
When we’re driving down a bumpy road, we don’t freak out in fear. We might slow down and start to pay attention more, but we don’t start saying our Hail-Marys and worrying about something terrible happening. We know that we’ll get to smooth ground eventually.
What if we started to look at our lives this way?
Instead of reacting in fear, anxiety, and drama when we hit some turbulence in our lives… what if we just said “It’s all part of the journey. It’ll be over soon.”
Because it is part of the journey. Shit happens. We lose our jobs. Our cars break down. We go through rough break-ups. We battle addictions. It doesn’t mean that something has gone horribly wrong. It doesn’t mean that we are fuck-ups who will never get anything right. It’s just a part of the human experience.
I think about the amount of time I wasted being caught up in anxiety, in both flying and in my life, and have made a conscious decision to not react the same way any longer. If I find myself in a stressful or turbulent situation in my life, I’ll decide to prioritize my mental stability over the external outcome. Because I can’t control it anyways.
If you think about it, worry is seriously one of the most useless emotions we have. It’s not like if we worry enough, we’ll stop it from happening. It’s usually the opposite effect.
We can’t stop the plane from crashing. We can’t force someone to hire us. We can’t stop someone else from cheating us. We can’t control life. But, we can control our reaction to all of it.
We just need to choose how we’d rather spend our time.
When we hit turbulence, do I want to spend 15 minutes in crippling anxiety fearing the plane could crash or would I rather continue enjoying watching Sex and the City reruns on my laptop while enjoying some smokehouse almonds?
I’ll take the latter.
We can take the same approach to our lives. It doesn’t mean you’re giving up. If you’re out of a job, it doesn’t mean you stop applying for jobs. If you’ve just gotten dumped, it doesn’t mean you swear off dating until Prince Charming comes to save you.
You can still actively try and navigate yourself through the turbulence, but not haphazardly. You slow down a bit. You take a gentle approach. You practice patience. You start to envision the smooth road ahead, not the bumps you’re driving through now.
You trust that this is a part of the journey. It’s only here to help you grow. When we slow down, get present, and pay attention…. we can take the action (or lack thereof) that will actually benefit us.
Too often we make rash decisions when were in the midst of the bumps, taking us off course completely. We need to approach the rough patches with the same sensitivity as we would with a bumpy road. This doesn’t mean we’ve failed. This doesn’t mean the car is going to crash. We have to just slow down, take a breath, and have faith in what’s on the other side.