Imagine you’ve been planning a road trip with your family for months. You’ve been mapping out all the details, eager and excited for your adventure. You’ve made sure your car is in good working order, you pack the food, and you set out.

For the first three days, everything is working to plan. You reach all your destinations right on schedule, and you are enjoying the beautiful sights and family bonding time.

Then out of the blue, the fourth morning arrives and the trouble begins. Your car’s red light turns on, warning you there is an engine issue that needs to be taken care of.

Oh no, not this! Here I am out on the road, with a perfectly laid-out plan, detailed goals and timeline for my final destination! I just can’t deal with it.

So you simply do what you feel is best … and ignore it.

All is fine for a few days. On day six, your engine starts smoking out in the middle of nowhere. “Ah, I’m all alone on a deserted side road with an overheated engine!” Well, you need to move forward, so again, you do what feels easiest; you pour water over the smoke and keep going.

On day seven, you wake up to a dead car.

To me, this is such a relatable parable for our own lives. The perfectly mapped-out “road-trip” life we so wish we could live, and the way we so often try to create a vision, plan it all out, set goals and aim to accomplish them all perfectly.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work like that. Although we would like to believe (and often feel) that we are the drivers of our own lives, the truth is that we are very much the passengers.

And just like a car communicates to us when it needs a repair, reset and self-care, our Driver, G‑d, communicates to us when we need a reset, a new route and/or when we need to level up our gears. Usually, it means letting go of and transforming old stories, belief systems, coping mechanisms and our old relationship with ourselves and G‑d.

In this case, our bodies are our cars, and our “red lights” come out in many different forms.

For each person and situation, it can look different. It can be anxiety, a panic attack, irritation, needing to control, being lost in our heads, overthinking our purpose, agonizing over our future and worth, overworking or physical discomforts like headache, tension, back pain, not sleeping and more.

So what do we do?

1.The first step is to remember that all of your symptoms are not the actual issue that needs to be addressed; they are the warning bells. Focusing on them would be like trying to change the car battery to make the red light go away instead of checking the engine to see what the core issue is.

2. The next step is to soothe our body and remind it that it is safe now.

Hold your body and say; “I’m with you; I see you. I will stay with you as long as this takes. You’re safe now to talk with me; I will not judge or suppress any of your feelings. Your feelings matter to me; you’re worthy enough for me to stay here all day as long as it takes.”

3. Once the body feels safe and calms down, the heart will be willing to start talking. Sit in a calm, peaceful, quiet place and breathe. Hold your hand warmly and tenderly on your heart; and then listen, listen and listen.

4. Strong painful memories, emotions and triggers may come to the surface. Our job is not to fix them. All they need is to be heard and validated. As our hearts speaks to us, we can respond: “I hear you, I understand, I feel you, I’m so sorry for your pain, I love you. You’re safe now with me.” Sometimes, we need to say this 1,000 times until our hearts believe us.

5. Old walls and coping mechanisms start coming up to be healed and noticed. Some major blockages to our true human empathy include judgment, shame, blame, criticism, anger, resentment, entitlement, perfectionism, worthlessness, fear, arrogance, coldness, jealousy, etc. These are all hard and uncomfortable feelings, and as they arise, it is only natural for us to want to judge them, suppress them, and feel shame around them.

The answer, solution and healing to all of the above obstacles is through love. We can acknowledge our walls as our friends, “protection” that we used all these years to help keep us safe from a very unsafe painful world.

So we can say, “I see you, judgment. Thank you for being here with me all this time, protecting my heart from the pain, but I am safe now and no longer need you. You can go now.”

6. Ask G‑d to release our old coping mechanisms that no longer serve us well. Imagine it as an offering to G‑d. See yourself bringing it to the Holy Temple and watching it on the altar, being utterly burnt, released and removed.

7. Now that we have fewer walls, we are going to feel the true deep ache which we may have been avoiding our whole life. This may be deep loneliness, pain, heartache, suppression and suffocation of self-expression—a desperate longing; deep grief. These emotions are the pain and cries of our collective soul power that has been exiled within us.

Although being in this place can be terrifying, when we get here and allow it, this is the moment we are literally setting the soul free from its exiled state. Understanding this helps, because every moment of allowing and feeling the ache is literally undoing the chains around the soul’s heart.

With this, too, it’s not about fixing. At this level especially, it is about giving it over to G‑d. It is only through G‑d’s comfort and love that we can truly heal this level of wound.

8. Hold your body again. Imagine you’re about to birth a baby, because if you’ve gotten to this point, then you are doing exactly that. You are now in transition. Hold your heart; know it’s your soul power! Let it cry, scream, yell, sob—pour out your heart with the full depth of its suppressed powerful light.

9. Let the light in. You have just birthed a new level of light! You have set your soul more free through allowing it to express its ache. It now feels more released and comforted—free to take up more space, light, love, self-expression, vulnerability, desire, pleasure and love through your whole body, emanating out for the whole world to bask in.

10. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Trust in this process. Together, one person, one breath, one moment, one surrender, one trusting at a time ... growing and expanding, widening and deepening until at last, you arrive. Cosmic comfort for the collective soul. Breathe in the comfort. Hold it in your heart.