Deb Sofield

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The Most Dangerous Place

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I have come to believe that the most dangerous place in the road is the intersection.

And I think that is, because at that place, within seconds of time, someone has to make a decision.

And isn’t that just like life? You come to the intersection and then you have to choose which way to go, how fast and still (out of the corner of your eye) be aware of those around you.

I do prefer an intersection to a round-about. In other countries, (where they don’t drive in between the lines) the round-about can force you to go round and around and around until you’re sick or you figure out how to forcibly push your car to the outer edge without wrecking into the other cars to get off the highway.

In the South I have noticed that we tend to be a little more gentle when it comes to intersections. Most of us will drive up to the line and whoever is first gets to go and then gives a wave and then the second gets to go and so on. Maybe it’s because most of us don’t have to be anywhere fast or maybe we’re just a bit more polite, but, even then, when you arrive at the line, you have to push through so you can get to where you are going, otherwise you’ll just sit there until every other car goes and then you’ll go last.

I don’t have the patience to go last, so I usually nose my way out front if someone else hesitates, and then I go. It’s not that I have to be anywhere by a certain time, it’s just that I hate to wait for people to make a decision, so, if they don’t go quickly, I’ll make the hard decision and then go.

Recently I was speaking at a conference, and after the talk a very nice lady came up to thank me, and in the course of conversation it was apparent that she needed to make some decisions in her life. She had been forced, in a sense, to the intersection of life and had hesitated, not because she didn’t know what to do in her head, but because she was afraid of what she knew she should do in her heart.

That’s a tough place to be, when your head knows you need to make a clean break to right or left or straight ahead but your heart is still holding on—waiting. For what? Even she couldn’t put it into words.

From her story, it appeared to me that in this case she was not the first to the intersection, meaning she didn’t cause the trouble, but, when it came her turn to go at the intersection of life, it seemed easier and seemingly safer to sit, wave through all the other nice cars…without making a move herself.

I reminded her not to wait for the perfect moment, but to take the moment—the difficult situation—and make it perfect enough for her future, otherwise she would be sitting doing nothing, watching life go by in her pain, instead of moving forward in the new life she had been given.

The reality is that waiting was getting her nowhere, and, in her position, being in the intersection of the situation was the most dangerous place she could be, because the reality of life is… not everyone is going to stop and be polite and let her go at her leisure. No. Someone would give a wave to go and, in her slowness brought about by fear, and, in their impatience, they would barrel though. Worse yet, seeing that she sat through so many other cars, some will assume that she is going nowhere fast and speed through the four-way stop, and that is how life-changing accidents happen.

I so wanted to say to her that in an odd sense the physical danger she was putting herself in was greater than any danger she felt on an emotional level, because by being in the intersection (the most dangerous in the road), if she’s not careful, she could be killed.

Not to be an alarmist, but, friends, not paying enough attention in this life that moves at racecar speed could be life threatening, if you just sit in the way of the oncoming traffic. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad tidings, but hear me when I say that no one is going to slow down for you. It’s just not how people are nowadays.

So she (like some of you) has to make some hard decisions. I let her know that it is my hope and prayer that she had enough friends and family and her faith to hold her up when the speed of life runs full force at her. Unfortunately for her (and many who are listening today know) that is not always the case, so now what do you do?

Let me tell you the three ideas that I believe will give her and you enough strength to get you back on your feet.

  1. Assess where you are.
  2. Figure out where you need to go for safety.
  3. Start moving.

Seems easy, right? Well, it is, when you pull your heart of out it and use your head. I’m not saying you can’t keep a part of your heart nearby, but, for now, you have to set it aside.

Just remember that happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. We’ll get to the light eventually, if you will follow the path.

So let’s figure out how to turn on the light.

  1. Assess where you are. Is this current situation going to bring you closure in your life? I didn’t say happiness because I am not sure that day will come right away. What you need to figure out right now is closure. Where you are with what you have and what you need to move forward. Remember, friends, don’t look back. You’re not going that way, and, although it is hard, there comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.

Assessment is never easy, but it is necessary if you are going to restart, rebuild or readjust your current situation.

So, tell me where you are. My friend was able to say that she was safely in her home with her good job. “What do you have?” was my next question. Seems she had saved enough money to be secure for a good while, and she had some trusted friends. Then came the hard question. What do you need to move on? After she had thought about it, her answer was, time. She said, “Deb, I need time to heal, time to rest, time to regroup and get a hold of my life again. Fair enough; then take the time to heal, rest and regroup.

As a woman and a coach, I think about safety for all my clients, friends and family. The world is a very different place nowadays, so safety is very important for me to communicate to those I care about. Safety is not just a location; for some, safety is a state of mind, meaning that you need to find the open space in your very full brain to think. I love the quote by Joseph Campbell, “Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.”

  1. Figure out where you need to go for safety. When you think about where you need to go for a safe place emotionally, mentally, maybe physically, and, for some, a mental pause of peace and rest, I strongly believe you need to shut out the noise of the traffic around you and look inside to find your strength. When you are strong and somewhat settled, you will feel safe. When you’re in turmoil or in a place that is not your own and you cannot make a small corner in your space safe for you, it takes much longer to heal the heart, mind, soul and body. So, a quick shout out to those who are helping a friend in hard times. Please know they need to keep some mementos around them to help them claim their space and to feel a sense of safety. We do that for our elderly family members: We add photos and a comforting blanket, or books or their Bible to make a new place warm and safe. With children, many times fire and police officers keep a teddy bear handy in case of an accident so the child will have something to cling to, so they can shut out the noise of their current environment. It is important that you figure out where you need to go for safety—mentally, physically and emotionally.
  1. Start moving. Starting today, you need to forget what’s gone. Appreciate what still remains and look forward to what’s coming next. I saw a poster that said, you fall, you rise you make mistakes, you live, you learn. You’re human, not perfect. You’ve been hurt, but you’re alive. Think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive—to breathe, to think, to enjoy and to chase the thing you love. Sometimes there is sadness in the journey, but there is also lots of beauty. We must keep putting one foot in front of the other even when we hurt, for we will never know what is waiting for us just around the bend. Friend, start moving and don’t look back.

I heard J.K. Rowling once say that rock bottom was the solid foundation on which she rebuilt her life.

And I’ll leave you with this thought—You don’t have to have it all figured out to move forward, you just need to start walking.

Deb Sofield

Deb Sofield is a Keynote Speaker, Author of the book, Speak without Fear – Rock Star Presentation Skills to get People to Hear What You Say and Encouragement For Your Life ~ Tough Love Memos to Help You Fight Your Battles and Change the World, Radio Talk Show Host in the Salem Network, Podcaster and President of her own Executive Speech Coaching Co., which trains women and men for success in speaking, crisis communications, presentation skills, media and message development in the U.S. and abroad.

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