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Why Bother Checking Your Fuel?

This summer while traveling, my husband and I often commented on the price of gas. At one of our pit stops, my road weary husband did not read the “label” before pressing the “choice” button for the type of gas he put in the truck. Mistakenly, he paid $6.25 a gallon for that “special” kind of gas. 

But, no matter the price of fuel, without it we go nowhere. 

A Better Incentive

Thinking about petro causes me to consider the nutriments, power source, or the motivation factors that drive each of us through our days. Why do we do what we do? What impels our behavior? What urges us to go in a certain direction and not another? What motors us to set the goals we set and what compels us toward those goals? 

From a personal point of view, previous promptings, propelling, and persuasion for my behaviors originated from my emotional pain. Above all else, my behaviors stemmed from surviving my father’s suicide and the best way to survive, I thought, was to guard myself from any further hurt. 

I did not know that managing life from a defensive standpoint would cause physical and mental exhaustion. I did not know that my choice of “fuel” for living life only led to negativity, bitterness, self loathing, blaming others, addictions, imagined fears, isolation, rage and judgmental attitudes. 

My actions embarrassed me. I knew they were wrong. Yet, this way of living had served me well. I’d survived the carnage from my father’s suicide and I couldn’t imagine any other way to live my life. I was proud of my fuel, so to speak. Anger, fear, and avoiding emotional pain had gotten me quite a ways down the road. It was scary to think of forfeiting my means of surviving for something other than what I had grown comfortable and familiar with. And yet, I knew I had to change if I wanted my life to be different. 

And I longed for my life to be different because I intrinsically knew there was a better way for me to make decisions, set goals and live. But, forfeiting fear meant I’d have to be fearless. To set aside self loathing meant I’d have to learn to accept all of the foibles I tried to disguise. Oh my!

My journey from simply surviving to actually living has taken me to many different “filling stations” along the roadway. These “filling stations” are staffed with people wiser than myself. I’ve found their directions to be trustworthy and reliable. For instance, consider these words from an author named Richard Rohr, “If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it.” 

Indeed, my untransformed pain drove me for quite a few miles. But, oftentimes, my pain and its fumes were transmitted onto and into the lives of others. Consequently, when I consciously made a choice to change my fuel to a transformative one, my pain was no longer the force motoring me down the road. 

Why bother checking our fuel? Noticing what drives us may cause us to consider filling our tanks with a better incentive than the one marked “pain”. 

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