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Reaching Escape Velocity

Reflecting on the Power to Change and the Things I Learned while Watching the Science Channel

Gravity is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their masses.

I’ve been watching a lot of shows on the Science Network recently. There is something both comforting and intriguing about learning what keeps this universe of ours together—and what tears it apart. The vastness and complexity of the natural world never ceases to amaze. In fact, the scale of the universe is almost unfathomable.

In order to wrap our human heads around the universe, scientists have focused their curiosity on the forces that govern matter and energy. Laws govern this world, and theories try to explain what the laws don’t.

Gravity is interesting to me. Now I don’t know all the intricacies of physics, but it seems to me that objects with more mass attract objects with less mass. The sun attracts the Earth and all the rest of the planets. The Earth attracts the moon and keeps all of us on its surface, too. It takes immense energy to escape its gravitational pull. This is called escape velocity.

Wikipedia explains this process: “In physics, escape velocity is the speed at which the kinetic energy plus the gravitational potential energy of an object is zero.[nb 1] It is the speed needed to “break free” from a gravitational field without further propulsion.”

Life change has similar dynamics. The “mass” that is created in our lives can create a type of gravitational pull that keeps us where we are.

When I moved from the San Francisco bay area to Southern California to attend graduate school, I never thought that I would stay. I assumed that I would be there 2 years or so to get my degree, and then move back up north. However, during my therapy internships, I began gaining influence in my job at the hospital. Promotions and added responsibility made it easy for me to ‘go with the flow,’ and stay put.

This was not a bad thing. In fact, I am grateful for the opportunities that were presented to me. I met the love of my life, and we got married. We had a little girl who has been a blessing and recently had a baby boy. Life’s gravity began making it harder to change. Fear of failure, lack of security, and complacency made it harder to reach the escape velocity needed to see the change that I would like to see.

The desire to step out of my comfort zone seemed daunting. I ultimately came to some conclusions about life change and reaching my “escape velocity.”

1.) The energy needed to break free from the gravity of your situation can be immense. Therefore, you need to be wise in how you direct that energy. You only have so much energy to expend. The more dissipated or distilled it is will determine the impact of your efforts. Keeping focused and redirecting your thoughts back to where you want to go is key.

For me, making lists, scheduling quiet time, scheduling community time with my wife and counselors are important toward achieving this. Ask yourself, “Is there unnecessary energy expenditure in my life?” “What specifically can I eliminate from my life that is not serving my goals?”

2.) When discouragement comes (and it will), remember that it is a process. Many of the relationships and situations that I have the opportunity to be a part of now are invaluable toward what I will be doing. Remember that if the goal hasn’t yet been realized, it does not mean that change is not already occurring. Ask yourself a couple of questions: “What about my current situation is serving the change I want to see in my life?” “Who in my life can be an ally?”

3.) Trust in the process. The struggle you are experiencing can be the very thing that will make you stronger. Wisdom is forged in the crucible. Ask yourself, “What am I learning?”

Take courage. Reaching your escape velocity requires perseverance, patience, and faith! C.S. Lewis said, “Courage is not merely one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point.”

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Simeon Jones
Simeon Jones is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in working with adults experiencing anxiety, depression and relationship difficulties. Jones works with patients in NAMHS' Redding office and online.