“I Chose the Wrong Lane. The Other Lane Is Way Faster.”

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Daraius:  The hustle and bustle of holiday travel is underway, so I wanted to share a guest post from my friend Elly!

She teaches Non-Violent Communication, and is an empathy coach.  She also helps folks going through divorce maintain respect for each other.  She’s helped me and other members of the Million Mile Secrets team tremendously!  Oh, and she offers 30 minute free Discovery Sessions which are really easy to book online!

I’m always inspired by her kindness and intuition.  And touched by her ability to inspire, and share her compassion and commitment to finding common ground among all.

Here are wise words from my dear friend.  I hope they inspire you, too, in your travels this season.  🙂


“I chose the wrong lane.  The other lane is way faster.”

I hear the woman behind me in line for the airport security check sigh deeply.  She clearly wants a response.  The 100 people around us remain silent.

Elly Van Laar

Hurry up and Wait! The Stresses of Travel Can Get Us Down Sometimes

She tries again.

“What’s wrong with this lane?  We’re not moving at all.”

Another sigh, a bit louder.  Still no response.

“I’ll miss my plane!”, she says angrily and anxiously.

I get irritated.  What does she want me to do?  Push the person in front of me?  Yell at the staff to work faster?

Then somehow, I remember my commitment to work on pro-activity.  To create a space between the stimulus and my response.  I ask myself how I might want to respond:  from my reactive annoyance?  Or from my most empathetic and compassionate self?

Elly Van Laar

I Stopped and Considered Which Path to Take

I pause to notice my breath, a simple practice to remind me to come back to the present moment.  This woman wants support and maybe understanding for her anxiety.  She might want the people ahead of her to let her go by.

That certainly would speed up her security process.  I can be the first one to offer my place.  I turn around and see the face of an anxious and tired woman.

“You’re scared to miss your plane?”

“Yes, I only have an hour.”

“You want to go in front of me?”

“Yes” she says with a deep sigh.

I can see her relief.  Someone understands her predicament and wants to help.

And in her relief, I see a woman, not an annoyance.  I have transformed my enemy image with compassion.  She is a human being with the same needs and feelings that I have, someone with whom I might enjoy more, not less, connection.

And so we connect!  I discover she is also Dutch.  We switch to our native language to add more comfort and connection.  In no time we form a group of 5 people talking about our own languages (English, Dutch, German, and Spanish) with big smiles on our faces.

Elly Van Laar

Empathy and Compassion Always Work, No Matter Which Language You Speak

And then, all of a sudden we’re not standing in line – we are a hub of connection.  We’re almost disappointed, when we’re done with security and go our separate ways.

The result of pro-activity?  More connection and joy.

I feel deeply satisfied and inspired.

About Elly

Elly van Laar specializes in helping couples in divorce maintain mutual respect.

For 20 years, Elly has helped individuals, couples and organizations deepen compassion and empathy skills, bridge differences, and find solutions that benefit all parties.  Elly is a speaker and blogger on Nonviolent Communication, mindfulness, and conflict resolution.

Elly Van Laar

Meet Elly! I Am Happy to Call Her My Friend and Mentor

Elly has a Masters in Political Science from Leiden University in the Netherlands.  She has 8 years of training with Nonviolent Communication teachers, and 5 years of teaching Nonviolent Communication.

She belongs to Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Blossom mindfulness community, volunteers at the Austin Dispute Resolution Center and is a member of Amnesty International since 1980.

And if she is not mediating?  Then you can find her on her meditation cushion, visiting friends and family in the Netherlands, trying new vegan recipes, juggling, or, hanging out with her fan and teacher, her husband David Nayer.

To find out more about Elly, visit www.ellyvanlaar.com.

Bottom Line

I’m honored my friend Elly shared her story on the blog!  And I hope her words inspire you as much as they do me, especially as we embark on a busy Holiday travel season.

If you’re curious about Elly’s work, or think she might be able to help you, she offers a free 30-minute phone consultation to discuss your needs.

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2 responses to ““I Chose the Wrong Lane. The Other Lane Is Way Faster.”

  1. So true that our annoyances can become opportunities to make friends. I was on a subway in Kyoto and the man sitting next to me started to have a coughing fit. I became really annoyed and then turned it around. i thought how he might be feeling, and remembered that I had a wrapped lemon drop in my purse. I offered it to him gesturing with my other hand “to soothen your throat.” He took it and said “thank you.” It felt so nice between us. I have never forgotten the lesson this simple exchange taught me.