Emotional Traffic 101

Imagine you’re cruising down the highway on a beautiful day. Your favorite song is on and you’re singing along. You’re in a great mood…until you hit an unexpected traffic jam.

Your happy vibes vanish. You tense up. You have somewhere to be! The longer you sit in that traffic, the more stressed you become. The entire complexion of your mood spirals downward because of something outside your control.

This is how many of us respond to the emotional triggers of our lives. Someone says something or behaves in a way we don’t like. We take their words or actions personally, interpreting and judging through the lens of our egos, beliefs and past experiences. We get hooked into mind stories posing as truths.

Negative emotions emerge; the path to our heart is coned off like a closed lane on the highway. Traffic begins to build.

If childhood traumas are what gets triggered, the whole highway of our life may shut down. 

It doesn’t even take another person to create congestion. Life is full of potential road blockages. We experience an abundance of situations that feel challenging, frustrating, disappointing, heartbreaking, painful and sometimes downright unbearable.

Instead of acknowledging our emotions and letting them flow through us, being gentle and loving with ourselves, letting others be who and where they are on their journeys, clearing traumas of our past that inform our current anxieties and making empowered choices, we create internal traffic jams. These can take days, years and sometimes decades to clear.

If it’s a situation that has us triggered, we try to change it. We pretend our small minds know better than life does, and waste our energy trying to swim against the current on the experience.

If it’s another person who has pressed our buttons, we judge them, blame them, try to make them take accountability and apologize, try to change them and/or react in ways that will hopefully scare them from ever acting this way again. We hold them responsible for our feelings. We give away all our power.

It’s as exhausting as using all our might to push up against immobile cars on the highway. It’s as maniacal as approaching the construction area and throwing the lane-blockage cones at the workers.

They’re just doing their jobs. Just like the “villains” of your life. Only in the latter case, the construction is being done on you. They are here to wake you up. They are here to force you to look at your past pain and heal it, and learn to love and respect yourself once and for all.

If you want to be surrounded by people who treat you with more kindness and respect, guess who has to do that first?

If you’re choosing to stay with a partner you perceive as abusive, feel continuously damaged by their words and behaviors and don’t get support, you’re abusing yourself. If you remain in an environment job or situation that feels unhealthy, it’s time to ask yourself why, and listen beyond the convincing voice of your excuses.

What is showing up in our lives is showing up for a reason. Much of the time, we are unconscious co-creators of the script. Ever notice how you keep bumping into the same types of emotional congestion over and over?

When we fight against the “what is,” all we ever essentially do is give it more power. Undesirable experiences tend to feed and breed off our passionate attention and we create more of the unwanted by default.

Traffic happens. When we are aware enough to see our emotional congestion building, we have choices. We can feel our feelings and be compassionate with ourselves and others. We can choose our thoughts and responses. We can open up to new perspectives.

We can reach out for help. 

We can start to understand what is really going on in the here and now, and stop confusing the present day triggers with the ancient issues from our past that we haven’t yet healed. (Often the reaction is unconscious, but if we’re aware enough to stop blaming someone else for how we feel, we can learn how to support ourselves.)

We can begin to question our mind stories instead of allowing them to become script writers of our future. We can surrender to the what is, knowing we don’t have the full picture. It’s only then that we can be free.

Last summer, a very unpleasant experience of misdiagnosed poison ivy forced me to temporarily leave my volunteer position at Omega Institute, which seemed like a bad experience on many levels. However, I ended up exactly where I was meant to be that weekend to save my cat’s life. It was a powerful lesson in learning to stay present and trust, even when circumstances do not seem to be flowing in my favor.

If we don’t have awareness or practice accepting the challenges that show up, our autopilot reaction is generally going to choose traffic. Our egos like traffic. They like to sit in it for long periods of time, stewing and brooding and encouraging us to feel like victims. They like to feel separate from others. They like to be right. They like the safety of not moving forward.

Our egos have the awareness levels of children immersed in tantrums. And yet, we often unconsciously put them behind the wheels of our lives.

It’s time to reclaim our power and clear our emotional traffic jams. It’s time to truly love ourselves unconditionally, despite all we have allowed the world to convince us is wrong with us. It’s time to learn to love others fearlessly and unequivocally, and allow every person we encounter to show up exactly as they are. That doesn’t mean we have to dance with them. But it is neither our right nor our ability to change them.

Sometimes our inner traffic is optional. We can get off the exit ramp of abusive and otherwise unhealthy relationships, dead-end jobs and other situations that don’t serve us. Why are we taking the same route day after day when we know two lanes are closed?

Sometimes it’s a slow crawl to the exit ramp, or we simply don’t have a choice in that moment. In those instances, what can we do while we’re in traffic so we’re not wasting our energy fighting something we can’t control? Like another person. We can’t control what other people say and do, only how we respond.

We all deserve to love and be loved. And there’s only one way to truly and consistently experience this: releasing our inner congestion so we can love without traffic!

Contact me or visit the Clear Your Traffic (homepage) to learn how to begin.