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No breakdown in a breakdown

Today was eventful. I took my car out to meet a friend. I hadn’t driven it in a while as I haven’t really been going anywhere lately. It needed some fuel so I stopped at the garage, put some fuel in and carried on my way. About half a mile later I turned in at a junction and lost all power. The car had died. I couldn’t get it started. I put on my hazard lights and called for backup.

A nice man pulled alongside and asked if I needed help to push it around the corner as it was in the way of cars as they turned in from the main road. I accepted his help and he asked me what had happened, it just so happened that he was a mechanic. He asked if I had fuel in it and it was at that moment I remembered. My car is a diesel. I had put unleaded petrol into it.

He told me not to try to start it again as it would only make things worse. I thanked him and he was on his way. I felt a bit daft.

There would have been a time that this sort of incident would have left me feeling a horrible sensation in the pit of my stomach. I would have felt dread about what was going to happen and how I would be judged as a fool for making such a silly mistake.

Here’s the funny thing though. I felt neither of those things. I remembered that I know some people who have a family connection to a scrap yard, so worst case scenario I could get a good deal on the scrap metal. I called the garage that I usually use and asked them if I was going to get it towed somewhere, whether it was worth bringing it to them, or taking it straight to the scrapyard. And then I arranged to get it towed to near the garage, so that they can get round to working on it whenever they can fit it in. I drove the tow car and my helper steered mine. We had our phones on speaker so were talking to each other the whole time. It was really good fun towing the car and keeping an eye on it in my rear-view mirror, talking to the driver and working together to get it to the garage and get it parked safely.

It was only as I was walking home from the garage, my tow having needed to be elsewhere, that I realised how calm I had been through the whole event. There had been no surge of anxiety while waiting for help. Kind people had helped me. I was able to think of logical plans A and B and then put the plan into action, even towing my own car with someone else’s.

The umbilical tow-rope from my car to my helper’s. I’d never towed like this before, how exciting!

And that’s when I realised the power of mindset. I hadn’t needed to use any of the strategies that I know in order to stay calm, because I am so used to feeling calm, that I responded to the event without fear. Without anxiety. The dropping feeling in my stomach that I might have expected never came. I responded in a way that enabled me to think clearly and not become upset.

Sure, I’m annoyed with myself for paying for fuel that I should never have put in my car but I made a mistake. It happened. I couldn’t undo it once it was done and I had’t done it on purpose so blame wasn’t helpful. I could do without paying for my car to be drained and cleaned but I am safe, nobody got hurt and I learnt a new skill – towing. And alright, I didn’t get to see my friend, but I can rearrange it so no harm done.

When you practice feeling a certain way in your body and mind, it becomes your automatic response. Even when I found myself in a situation that could, arguably have been perceived as stressful, it didn’t trigger my stress response. It was what it was. I was able to see it for what it was and laugh about how ridiculous I was to have made such a silly error.

Feeling safe in my body and in control meant that the situation didn’t feel scary or upsetting. I can see that in the past this would have ruined my whole day or even my week. It would have felt like a big deal. I’ve learnt to master my mindset, and in doing so, control my response to situations so that I get to choose what how to respond to events. And I have to tell you, it feels great.

If you’d like to know more about mindset mastery, you can join my Challenge-Ready Mindset Mastery course that starts on 7th September. Ping me an email if you’d like to know about the early-bird offer. I haven’t even launched the course yet and I’m so excited to get it out into the World so that you too can feel calm in a crisis, and not breakdown in a breakdown.

About the Author

Zoe Carroll

Zoe Carroll is a life and mindset coach who helps people to find their freedom through a range of coaching and therapy techniques. She is also a mindfulness coach and yoga teacher and believes that our body and mind are one and the same and learning to work with them both together is the key to success.

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