I Need My Space

I Need My Space

I am taking an online defensive driving course. I could say I am taking the course because I wanted to lower my car insurance, which is partially true. But the truth is, I was speeding and got a ticket. There you have it. The secret is out. I am not perfect.

So I am jogging on my little trampoline watching the video on how to avoid collisions, and they talked about space cushions.

The narrator of the video stated, that to avoid collisions and accidents you need to have a space cushion all around your car; space in front of you, behind you, and on either side of you.

Space Cushions. This got my attention. So here is a little bit of wisdom from my defensive driving course.

As a therapist, life coach, and mom, I know many of us are driving our lives at high speed without space cushions. The result of this is we are stressed out, and edgy. Our relationships are vulnerable to head-on-collisions.


You need space in …

1. Your relationships.

All relationships need space. In fact, space enhances the relationship.  A healthy relationship has a natural flow of time together and time apart.

2. Your mind and heart.

Our heads and hearts can be more congested than Houston freeways in 5-a-clock traffic. You need space to let the swirling thoughts and emotions settle.

3. Your schedule.

Our American culture seems to be increasing speed each year. A hectic schedule is expected. However, this results in stress for the whole family and robs you of joy. You need breathing room in your schedule.

4. Your electronics.

We are available 24/7 through email, cell phones, and internet, and all the other electronic gadgets. There are lots of wonderful things about this but this has eroded our space cushion. This creates a blurring of boundaries between work and home because the cell phone and internet are in our living rooms.

More Wisdom from My Defensive Driving Course 

The video talked about being aware of collision traps. They defined collision traps as multiple factors coming upon you at once, like: the woman with the stroller, children playing in the street, a car opening a door, and unexpected things like cars cutting in front of you.

Here is how I see it. All of us have multiple factors coming at us on our schedule-packed days. You are headed for a collision trap if you have no space in any area of your life.

Let me share 6 simple ways to create space cushions in your life.

1. Reduce the speed of your life by taking 5 minutes to be quiet each day. Set a timer on your phone or use a simple kitchen timer. You can use this time to be still, meditate, or pray.

(The last thing I will share from the video. When you feel there is no place to escape the responsible decision is to reduce speed.)

2. Say No to one thing.

It is easy at the beginning of the school year to say yes to a million things. Sure, I will be president of the PTO. Yes, I can chair the school fundraiser. Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes.

Now if you really know you are supposed to be the president of the PTO then that’s great. But many of us over-commit for so many reasons. (That is another blog.) If there is something you really don’t want to do, then say no. It may be the one decision that will bring peace to you and your household.

3. Take a break from electronics.

Turn off all electronics for 30 minutes a day. The world will not fall apart. This will help you be present in the life in front of you.

4. Schedule downtime.

I love downtime. Most of us don’t have the luxury of days of downtime but we can still have downtime. And we need it to rest.

Schedule 1 hour of downtime. (And if you want to go wild – schedule 2 hours) During this time I want you to be unproductive. This is your time to piddle. Give yourself a break from getting something done on the to-do list.

5. Write it out. 

If your head feels like a traffic jam or a frazzled freeway then you want to get some of those thoughts on paper.  Get 3 pages of notebook paper. Now I want you to write continuously till you fill up those 3 pages. This is not a time to worry about grammar. You can change subjects in every sentence. The point of this is to empty all the thoughts that are swirling in your head.

6. Set a boundary in relationships.

Space is very important in families, especially with teenagers. You need space and your daughter needs space. Much of the drama can be avoided if you give each other space to calm down. It can drive moms crazy to see their daughters hiding out in their rooms but they need this time to let the drama settle. If you push it and barge into her room – well you have probably tried it. You know it doesn’t work. Good chance whatever stress of the day will be redirected in your direction. So if you don’t want to be a target, give her space. (this principle works with partners too.)

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