Feelings Are Like Rumble Strips

If you have driven a car, you are probably familiar with rumble strips.  Rumble strips are a safety feature.  They are the raised areas on the outside edges of a road or highway. Rumble strips can also be found in the center line on a two-way street.  The purpose of rumble strips is to produce a noise that alerts the driver that they are in danger of running off the road, or heading into on-coming traffic.

Last Fall, my husband, Jerry and I took a scenic drive in the north Georgia mountains.  As Jerry was driving, I was busy looking out the window at the colorful Autumn leaves.  I kept hearing a rumbling noise.  It happened so many times, I got curious. I realized it was our car going over the rumble strips. Teasingly, I asked Jerry if he enjoyed the sound the tires made when that happened.  He just grinned at me which told me what I suspected… he did enjoy the sound and was probably deliberately driving over them. Boys will be boys.

It reminded me of how our feelings are like rumble strips.  If we are feeling angry, hurt, annoyed, or any other emotion, it is a simply a signal.  Like the rumble strips that wake us up to the fact that our driving requires our attention, feelings alert us that something is off track.  Our feelings are not necessarily telling us that we need to act.  They are alerting us that whatever we are thinking, needs to be questioned. 

How Do We Know That Feelings Come From Inside Us?

We have been taught to believe that outside circumstances cause us to feel angry, sad, happy, annoyed or an entire host of other feelings.  The reality is that it is how we interpret what is happening around us, is what actually causes our feelings.  

Have you ever gone to see a movie with a friend and afterwards found out that the friend hated the movie, but you loved it?  What about a rainy day?  Do you know someone who loves rainy days, but rainy days bring you down?  It was not the movie or the weather that caused the feelings.  If those events caused us to feel a certain way, then those situations would elicit the same reactions from everyone.  

Our feelings ask us to pay attention to what is going on inside us?  Are we making assumptions about something that happened or something that was said to us?  Before we react, we need to take some time to check-in with ourselves.  When we are calm and can look at a situation objectively, we can make better decisions as to what action, if any, is needed.  

Slow Down

Another type of rumble strip extends all the way across the entire lane of a road.  Those strips are there to remind drivers to slow down as they approach a traffic light or stop sign. Sometimes, our feelings are trying to tell us to slow down.  We might be overthinking an issue in our life or ruminating on something from our past.  When we slow down, it makes it easier to sort through which issues are real and need to be addressed and which issues are imaginary.

The next time you’re feeling upset ask yourself what your feelings might be trying to tell you.  Do you need to question the thoughts that are going through your mind?  Do you need to slow down? 

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