This is not just about parking a car, this is about parking in general. Parking means to put something in a place and leave it there for a while. “Can I park in your office for a while?” “Can I park my car in your driveway?” “Can I park my kids with you for the afternoon?” Parking is about leaving something somewhere else. We don’t even think about it. I am going to the grocery store and I need to park my car….it’s obvious. I don’t think about it before I go—unless of course I’m into parking karma: “Let a parking space appear just where I need to be.’ I’ve done that and it seems like a magic. I have willed a parking space into being and boom, there it is. A car pulls out just as I arrive, and it is in exactly the right spot.
Recently a friend and I did that and it felt like magic. We had been driving around the coffee shop trying to find a parking space, and then we asked for one, “Please let someone pull out and leave a parking space in front of the store.” And boom like magic it happened. We felt like magical beings. It was wonderful.
But I’m not talking about that kind of parking. I am talking about the kind of parking a depressed person tends to do. I was one, so I know. In fact, I can go back as far as a teenager. As I mentioned earlier, my mom died when I was eleven, and so I was a motherless teen. Fortunately, my best friend had the most wonderful mom in the world. Mrs. Dawson. She was fabulous. I went to my friends house every weekend and slept over. Sunday morning we would wake up and the kitchen was always filled with the smell of egg and bacon, toast, and baked beans—hey I’m originally from the UK and that’s the kind of breakfast we love. Anyhow, Mrs. Dawson was so wonderful to take me in like that and I will appreciate her generosity for the rest of my life.
But—I also took my problems and parked them with my friend. I always had a story about my mean step mother and how she had made me do the ironing, or not given me an allowance. What a brat I was. And I expected my best friend to always be interested. Until this one day, I arrived as usual at the weekend and began telling one of my sob stories, when my friend and her brother began to sing. “Don’t tell me your troubles, I’ve got troubles of my own. Don’t tell me your troubles, just leave me alone….” They were laughing of course. They were not so mean to just sing it deadpan and serious into my face. But I got the message. I was parking my troubles at their doorstep and expecting them to be interested.
I thought people would be interested in my nasty step mother and her wicked ways—and for a time they were. But over, and over, and over. It’s too much for a person to bear. We can’t keep on parking our troubles on other people, especially people who love us. It’s too hard for them to sing the song, “Don’t tell me your troubles….” But I bet in their hearts they wish you would stop.
I remember my therapist, yes I got a therapist when I had Bells Palsy, but that’s another story I will tell you later….but I remember her saying to me, “Val if you need to tell your story, come and tell it to me. We all need someone to listen, but don’t be telling all your friends about it all the time. That’s what I am here for, to listen.”
I heeded her advice. I stopped telling my sob stories all the time. Today it is time to stop parking your problems on everyone else. It is time to move on. Put your mind in shift. Drive away from parking your troubles onto people. If you need to tell your problems to someone, find a therapist like I did. It is refreshing to do that, because a therapist is a great parking spot for your problems and troubles. They have chosen to be a parking spot for troubles. Your friends and family, co-workers and bosses did not. Once or twice, yes of course it’s okay to share your troubles but every day? No. Today, as soon as you realize you are parking your troubles again; put your mind into shift and drive your thoughts in another direction. The best way to do this is to let them drive for a while. Ask them a question. “How are you doing today?” And then sit back in the passenger seat and listen. You don’t have to be parking your troubles, let someone else do it. Or better still, find an uplifting topic. “Hey do you remember your last vacation. What was the most wonderful thing you remember about it?” Or, “I hear your son is getting married, how are the wedding arrangements going?” Or, “I’m looking for something new to do this weekend, do you have any ideas?”
Today stop parking your troubles and move your mind into shift. Change gears and move forward. Ask questions and keep driving to a new destination. A new topic. A new interest. Focus on the other person and let them drive the conversation. You will feel better as a result. They will feel better as a result. Result—Forward motion my friend. Forward motion.