Back in the dark ages before Angry Birds and tablets, bikes were a big thing. At least for me!
My first 2 wheeler was used and red and rusty. My folks didn’t believe in training wheels and this was long before bike helmets. It took me a while to get the hang of it. Now I know why!
I’ve spent the last 15 years or so learning hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming (NLP). One of the first things learners must wrap their heads around is the seemingly counter-intuitive notion of focusing on what you do want…on where you’re going, rather than focusing on what you don’t want.
Here’s the metaphor that brings me back from the edge when I’m tempted to forget.
There’s a cute little kid, wearing a helmet, out in the driveway on a bright, shiny bike, complete with glitter if that works for the kid in question. Typical subdivision. Nice paved driveways. Sidewalks. Mature shade trees, complete with tire swings standing next to the driveways. And a loving, well-intentioned adult helping the cute little kid along.
The kid wants to go down the driveway, hang a left at the sidewalk, and go show off for friends next door.
The loving adult runs along, holding the back fender of the bike, until the time comes to let go. (If you’ve been that adult, you probably remember how hard that part was!) And then, it starts.
Don’t hit the tree! Don’t hit the TREE!! DON’T hit the TREE!!!
Boom! The kid rides right into the tree. Often, tears happen. Sometimes bandages and tissues are required. Occasionally bike repairs.
Eventually, it’s time to try again. What works better???
You can do it! Keep your eyes straight ahead. Focus on the sidewalk. Turn left gently. You’re doing it!!!
And, with a little luck, the kid winds up next door doing a happy dance on the sidewalk, while the adult tries to get over a panic attack at the thought of exactly how much bigger that kid’s world just got, though that’s an issue for another day…
The point of course, which you bike riders already know, is that the bike is going to go exactly where the kid’s nose is pointed. Or, as the Zen folks would say, “The energy flows where the attention goes.”
Kids create lots of opportunities for practicing this perception. Here’s a good one:
Kid walking across the room with a glass of milk: Great! Just look at where you want to be!
Ok, there’s still the issue of muscle memory to be practiced, but it almost always works better.
When it doesn’t… No problem! Let’s get that cleaned up!!! Lot’s more confidence next time.
You get it. It even works for adults! Keep the attention on your desired outcome and that’s where the energy will flow. Projects? Dreams? Political opinions? Yep.
Now for the obvious disclaimer. Does it work 100% of the time?
Of course not.
Will you feel better about yourself and your life if this is your approach?
I don’t know for sure about you.
PS – Oh, that kid you love…not only able to ride a bike, but well on the way to a much more manageable, confident life! And that’s a good thing!
Blessings to you and yours this Memorial Day Weekend.
Photo from Canva.