I finally GET getting there

When you go on holiday do you enjoy the journey itself? Do you just want to get to that destination as quickly as you can and make the most of your holiday? Or do you enjoy all the experiences and changes along the way?

I think I’m in the second group for the most part. As a child, my favourite bit of the journey was the train. All our holidays were in this country and we mostly took the train. I remember the thrill of the waiting on the platform and the obligatory visit to the gents which I mostly did just because I wanted to know what they were like! (Sorry Dad).

I loved sitting on the train, watching the unusual scenery go by, and I liked standing near the door as the train hurtled on, trying to keep my balance, along with my brother. We would darie each other to put our heads out of the window! Yes, it was an innocent and potentially deadly time in those days.

And when the scenery began to seem samey and my parents had summoned us back to our seats I used to tell bizarre stories, that I made up as I went along, talking about my made up characters – the ‘itty bitty buddies’..The ultimate holiday thrill – driving my parents crazy.

These days I fly more often than not, but my love of the journey hasn’t changed. Getting to the airport is a little dull, but I find the whole process once you get there – the procedures, the security – fascinating. I’ve had a couple of experiences with security that, although unnerving at the time, at least reassured me that they are on the ball and effective – like the time one of my sons took a bullet with him on holiday! Or when another son’s box of poker chips was mistaken for a stash of drugs!

Then there is the departure lounge – watching people and the ways they cope with waiting. The snoozers, the foot-tappers, the readers, the chatterers and the people watchers. Some wait with excitement, some wait with impatience, some with anxiety or even fear. All these different experiences as we all wait for the same outcome.

In NLP terms we refer to this as the ‘map’. One of our key ‘presuppositions’ is that the ‘map is not the territory’. We can all live in the same world and have the same day-to-day experiences, but our mental map of these things can differ wildly from person to person.

To take the example above, a flight in a plane for one person can be a thrill and an adventure, for another it can be a necessary delay before arriving somewhere important or exciting, and for some it is a nightmare horror that perhaps is too frightening to consider. The fascination for me is that if you can change the way people think about things, you can change their whole experience just by changing that map. You can overcome the fear and even enjoy what you once found an ordeal.

I have come to understand that, whatever the practical reality, nothing is real apart from what we create in our own minds. That means for instance that whatever has happened in the past is just a memory in the mind. You can let go of that memory and instantly let go of the hold it has over your present and the limitations it puts on your future.

As Stephen Covey puts it – ‘Between stimulus and response, you have the power to choose’. With practice and experience we can choose how we response to events in the present. We can choose to be bored, or to enjoy the journey. We can choose to be angry, or to laugh at ourselves.

It’s not always easy to do that. But just knowing that the choice is there, itself makes things easier to bear, or even to enjoy. Learning how to change they way we feel and respond is even better, because if we feel bad, we can just STOP…and feel something else instead.

So if you’re going on holiday this year, I hope you will enjoy your journey as well as your time at your chosen destination and I hope you have good weather in your mind, whatever the weather out there.

Robert Sanders is a therapist and life coach, supporting people in their present and helping them create their future.

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