Fighting back, turning your fear into joy

Parallel parking bears similarities to living fully. They are both risky because you are dependent on others. Both require an element of trust in fellow humans and in your own ability to wriggle out of a tight situation if humans let you down.  It is impossible to park with confidence or embrace all the possibilities of life if you are not willing to trust other people.  Without trust, we live in overwhelming fear of parallel parking and living in general.  Full disclosure is necessary at this point.  I am going to take you on a fear feast, so if you aren't up for that quit reading now.  Please be brave, stay with me.

Parallel parking stirs up a myriad of fears for me.  Will there be enough room?  Will I get the angle right when I back in or will I be that person who wiggles endlessly back and forth in the spot trying to get close enough to the curb? What if someone else parks too close to me and I get stuck in the spot?  There is something about contemplating parallel parking that triggers fear and insecurity.  The fears are utterly ridiculous.

Although they are ridiculous, they happen with astounding regularity and they require energy to resolve.  Sometimes the fears are so overwhelming, I drive around the block and find another spot.  Granted there are times when my fears keep me from trying to squeeze into a space that is not long enough but I don't think that is fear.  The ability to assess a situation and make a sound decision, quickly and confidently, is good and I suggest that is not based in fear.  When I think of fear, I think of that horrible thing that bores into your spirit and keeps you from living joyfully.

Fear messes with your Journey, robs you of Opportunity, and steals parts of You.  That's how big and ugly fear is. But too often, we allow it to sit in our lives and we encourage it to linger by feeding it.  Back to the parking situation. I returned from my meeting only to see that another human had boxed me in with their truck.  Fear and anger are closely linked, so my go to was anger at the sub-par intelligence of someone who would park that close to one's bumper.  Yes, there was someone behind as well that was equally close to my bumper.  Had they conspired against me in my absence?  No, they had both simply been inconsiderate and thoughtless.  There was not gigantic conspiracy by the citizens of our city, to trigger all my fear and insecurity.  I was the only one who had the control button on that trigger.

When my fear trigger goes off the best handling mechanism is a deep breath and a plan.  Sometimes lots of deep breaths, except that one doesn't want to hyperventilate in a parking spot alone.  So, I limit myself to only one or two deep breaths and a walk around the vehicle to note how many inches I have to maneuver within.  Then I wrestle with reframing the situation.  I am not boxed in.  Someone I don't even know has thrown down a challenge, my job is to pick it up and deal with it.  I turn the vehicle on and have a talk with myself.  I ask myself one of my favourite questions, "What's the worst that can happen?"

Others have accused me of being negative by asking that question, but I hold to it as a practical measure of the seriousness of the predicament.  Most predicaments we encounter turn out to be quite inconsequential when deconstructed that way.  It also permits us to efficiently separate the inconsequential from the gravely dangerous.  My parking situation was inconsequential.  The worst that could happen was I might be stuck until one or the other driver returned and moved their vehicles first.  Nothing worse.  I might be late but not dead.  I might be embarrassed but not hurt.  I might be inconvenienced temporarily but not permanently.  It is possible to diminish your fear by facing it.

I faced my parking fear. I put the vehicle in gear and began the slow painstaking process of driving back and forth to work my way out.  It took three wiggles, and on the fourth I was free and clear able to proceed with my Journey.   If I told myself I couldn't, I would have been sitting there for a long time waiting for the other drivers to return and I would have missed out on other Opportunities of my day.  When you decide you can't without trying you risk losing another little bit of You, leaving you less equipped to face the next challenge.  But I chose to stare down my own parking fears and give it a go.

Whatever fear you experience, remember to face it head on.  Deconstruct it and chose how to address it.  Reclaim your Journey, your Opportunities, and Yourself.  Reclaim your JOY.