As a resident of New Jersey, many of our roadways leave a lot to be desired. Some are constructed with little logic others are just long roadways filled with construction and repair. The worst of these however is the four way dance of hell: Rt 17/ Rt 4/ Garden State Parkway/ Rt 80 intersections around Paramus.
The other day I had the misfortune of driving in this area, but fortunately I had my GPS. I plugged in the address and I was off to my destination. When it said turn left, I turned left. When it said make a right, I followed the command. Blindly trusting my GPS, I followed her every direction and sure enough, in spite of the the tortuous and confusing area, I reached my location. Upon completing my mission, I reflected upon my blind faith of this mechanical device. I made a decision to turned my directionality over to my Garmin. I thought about how interesting this is–many people will trust a machine to make them safe but do not listen to their internal GPSs to help them with important life altering decisions. Why is it that we are so willing to turn left and right on the highway because Garmin says so, but are so unwilling to go left or right in life? Why do we negate our own “gut feeling” and do unhealthy, illogical or irrational actions?
A typical GPS answers the questions:
Where am I ?
How do I get to my destination?
How long will it take to get there?
Many people come into my office asking similar questions. Some of them do not know their “destination”- they just want it to be different from where they are right now. Many of them have been “off course” for many years and have come to therapy for some map guidance. They have been ignoring their own internal GPSs. This has led to issues such as addiction, infidelity, depression or anxiety. Some of them are so lost they cannot make a simple left or right; they are stuck.
How does a person begin the process of using their internal GPS? For many people this will be a hard task. Some people are so distant from their internal mechanisms, that they either do not listen to their inner voice, or the voice they hear is a critical, self-destructive one. They need to change their self- loathing sounds to ones that have positive affirmation and positive self-talk. Other people have GPS settings that are other directed. These people lack confidence in their decision making and need lots of reinforcement and approval from others. They need to work on healthy risk taking and challenging their “catastrophizing what if” thoughts. When people challenge these thoughts, they discover the world hasn’t ended and they are more competent than they initially believed. Regardless of the degree of the issue, the person needs to rediscover their inner self and work on the belief that they are ok. If they develop that inner confidence they can take better care of themselves.
For the sake of my own self care, I’m glad that my excursions to driving hell are minimal. On these occasions, my external GPS gets me to where I need to be. Although working with an internal GPS is not quite as easy as putting in an address, the outcome of getting to where you need to be is quite rewarding. Remember change is possible.