Dr. Rich Patterson

Sensing & Adjusting

Different stages encompass our life, and as we go through life, we are constantly growing and changing physically, mentally, spiritually, and socially-emotionally.  In a way, we’re sensing how things are different and adjusting to an ever-changing environment.  Racecar drivers are often asked what it is like to drive at two hundred miles per hour or faster.  Often the answer centers around their ability to sense the car they are driving and adjusting their driving to the information they receive from the vehicle itself.  For example, if the vehicle is turning corners with difficulty, they might slow down, apply the brakes, turn earlier, or turn later, choices to keep going as fast as possible.

How is this like living your life effectively?  What information about yourself, your life situation, and your environment (feedback) can you notice, and what adjustments can you make?  Sometimes we don’t like the feedback that we receive, and we choose to ignore it.  Later we may learn that we should have paid more attention to a comment that someone made.  Let’s say that you have a habit of being late to things in your life.  You don’t mean to, but you don’t allow enough time to get someplace and get there early besides.  Over time, one of your friends says, you need to get her earlier, you’re late.  Embarrassed, you fluff it off and say something like, “I know.”  But then it happens again and again.  Another friend notices that you’re late to things and says to you, “Someday you’re going to miss something important by being late.”  Still, for some reason, you don’t make the changes you need to make.  Then one day it happens, you are late to a meeting and when you enter you realize that you are being honored with an award and you missed it.  Something important that someone warned you about happened, and you didn’t make the adjustments you needed to make to change your life.

It is far easier to ignore those subtle nudges that we get from ourselves and others than to pay attention to them.  Our life is more like the clouds, constantly in motion, adjusting, bumping into things, sensing that change, and making an adjustment.  Just like the race car driver is continually seeking feedback about the car, the track, the weather, the temperature, and how all of them interact to help him be as fast as possible.  I’m not saying we need to go fast in our lives, but the opposite.  We need to slow things down enough to notice the subtle inputs we receive from our environment, friends, family, and those who care about us.  Then to care enough to make those changes in your life.

As a teenager, it seems like you are constantly getting guidance and feedback, often unsolicited.  Criticism makes it more challenging to make those adjustments because, after a while, you just shut down.  But no, don’t do that.  Take time to think about the feedback that you’re getting, and don’t forget non-verbal feedback.  Take a minute today to track the input you are getting, and in a table format, list the feedback in column one, and in column two, write the adjustment you could make.  Then try to make those adjustments.  The next time someone says something to you like, “You’re late.”  You can say, “I know, I’m working on changing that.”

Yours for a better life,

Rich