#9 Choosing Your Ride
“I’m afraid of what might happen…” Really, do you like roller coasters? I’ve asked people this question for years when they talk about being afraid to do something.
Some people love roller coasters and some people are scared of roller coasters and would rather do anything than ride on one; rarely are people ambivalent about riding a roller coaster. It is an effective metaphor for how our thinking determines our experience.
Ask a person who loves riding a roller coaster what is happening to them physiologically when they are waiting in line or beginning to ride the roller coaster and they’ll say things like “my muscles tense up, my heart is racing, and my breathing gets shallow.” Funny, that’s exactly how the people who are afraid to ride the roller coaster will describe their experience. It’s exactly the same.
So if that’s the case, what’s the difference? It’s your interpretation of what’s occurring. One person is telling themselves how exciting it is, how much fun they’re having, and is anticipating the rush of emotions and speed of the cars. When the ride is over, they often race back to the beginning to try another car and have another experience of being fully alive while on the ride, always ready for more.
The other person, the one who is “afraid of what might happen,” is dreading the ride. Each click of the car up the hill exaggerates their fear and heightens their panic. They focus on the speed and bumps, the negative experience of people shrieking, and every turn of the cars seems to take way too long to get to the end of the ride. They can’t wait to get out of the car and certainly won’t return for another ride. They can’t wait for it to end, and when it does, they’re happy to go home and retreat from the ride.
The roller coaster doesn’t care. It continues to go up and down, around and around, offering joy or dread to those doing the interpreting.
Which will it be? Life is full of roller coasters and you choose your ride every day.