Share Post:

The Drive Gear

So-called Tulsa, Oklahoma | Cherokee, Muscogee, Osage, Kickapoo Territory

I’ve spent most of my working life outdoors, much of it on machines of agriculture. In my life as an organic farmer there wasn’t money for new machines, so I bought the best I could at sales and made these rusty old machines work. Some pieces didn’t come in operating condition and over the years my shop grew in tools while I grew into new skills.

Whatever the machine, the operating principles are generally the same. There is a motor that provides the power and energy to motivate the various aspects of the machine and its attachments. Through a series of gears that power is applied where the operator desires it, whether that be moving forward or back, motivating a mower to cut the rye, or running a tiller in preparation for planting.

When any one of these gears cease to operate normally, there is work to do in repairing. A mower may become stuck because it is clogged or jammed. A gear on the machine that plants tomatoes may skip a gear, causing mistakes in the plant spacing. Without these gears turning in the correct order, as power is applied they simply cease to function as designed.

Human beings don’t come with any gears or an operating manual, we are left to troubleshoot issues after a part of us has broken. For humans, physical issues are easier to wrap our sight dominant brains around. Conditions like broken bones and torn ligaments are simple to understand as the root of the issue we are experiencing. Yet, mental and emotional issues have no immediate physical manifestation that is a direct cause and effect, and also these inner conditions express themselves in everything we do day in and day out.

Depression, chronic anxiety and demoralization are just the tip of the iceberg of mental and emotional issues modern humans encounter, yet there is little consensus about how to best relieve those affected from these conditions.

The human power center is the heart that makes all other body functions and perceptions possible. The heart then, metaphorically, drives our gears as we move through the world, bringing all of our wants and desires to us. This pure drive is our emotions, how the perceptions we have in the world around us ‘make’ us feel. If we imagine the teeth on these gears to be filled with emotional drive (motivation) and we understand that how we feel is based on the quality of our perception (the meaning we apply to stimulus), then we are beginning to understand what really makes humans tick.

Imagine a simple gear. This gear is brand new from the factory, and the edges are sharp and crisp. This gear is powered by the heart and provides the motivation to live. As children we are these fresh, crisp gears. If the tips of these gears had feelings, they would be love, joy, trust, confidence, imagination, and possibility. These emotions are then expressed into the outside world through intent and the following action.

Imagine that this expression is a second gear, enmeshed with the heart driven gear. This is what we call an idler gear, it only turns when the drive gear is engaged and well powered. For children, this gear looks like playing in the mud, riding a bike, getting upset when a need is unmet, or aiming for Cheerios in a toilet bowl. This idler gear is the expression of the emotions held in the drive gear, and as innocents children have a uniquely positive drive.

Now take this same example, the drive gear with the emotions and the idler gear with the expression and apply it to an adult. Perhaps that adult lost his father as a teenager. Perhaps she was physically or sexually assaulted in her early 20’s. Whatever the lashing of our ‘training’ to be in the world as we know it was, we did not come out the same. The teeth of that drive gear (motivation) became worn, maybe there is a tooth missing, or maybe the idler gear (expression) seized up altogether.

Depending on our childhood environments we can be affected deeply by guilt/shame, sadness/loss, grief, inadequacy, anger, loneliness, stress and fear. These negative emotions find the home on our drive gears after mistreatment breaks us or experiencing/witnessing a life threatening event. What might happen to our motivation (drive) and expression (idler) after enough negative experiences change our perception of meaning?

This is the up-side-down of our internal lives. This is where anxiety or fear or grief take over human drives and twist their expressions into false perception. This is where we learn to shrink away from human touch, to rest only on the pins and needles of chronic anxiety, and to become mis-trustful, suspicious of others and ourselves. This is where the gears of drive continue to turn, yet the teeth of the gear have been taken over by negative emotions that inform each and every desire, intent, and expression we as individuals have. Anxiety replaces trust. Anger replaces joy. Binary thinking replaces open-minded possibility.

We know how this feels. We know that something isn’t right. We know that we can’t continue on this way. We just haven’t known what to do about it. . . until NOW.

I have spent most of my lifetime on this wheel of negative drive, and I fought hard. In my worldview, inadequacy replaced confidence, misapplied guilt ruled my relationships, and what I was able to accomplish was usually carried out either through anxiety or anger. This worldview began to crack with my first hypnosis appointment for smoking cessation. I had recently given up on the last of a long line of talk therapists and EMDR. In hypnosis, I found a method that worked. It really worked.

I didn’t quit smoking immediately. I did, however, plunge into what is now a six year journey to mental and emotional recovery and spiritual expansion, all from a single positive seed of hope. With a 5-PATH hypnotist who taught me 7th Path Self-Hypnosis I can say firmly and confidently that the person I was and the person I AM are two radically different expressions.

This change was made possible not by changing my expression, but by changing my drive–by challenging the negative emotions within myself and working through my inner landscape bit by bit, piece by piece. So much depends on our ability not to believe the things that run through our head, the old stories and outright lies. Yet, only by challenging and changing from the root source of our expressions can we hope to remediate ourselves in the present.

This process is available to every one of us, when and if we choose it. It is available when we walk away and fall into historical coping mechanisms. It is available when we dive into suicidal ideation or after another altercation with an intimate.

Our drive doesn’t change, it comes from our heart, yet sometimes even the motivations of the heart become twisted. The spokes of the heart driven drive gear express our inner landscape of emotion that has little pathway out except to become known in our homes, careers, relationships, and communities. Using negative emotions like anger and stress to motivate change can only go so far, yet we can only fight for so long. At some perfect juncture in our journey we have the ability to choose differently, to build off a seed of hope and remediation instead of worn our legacies of feeling bad.

In my home, on my farm we fix what breaks. Something shiny and new would be great, yet as a vegetable grower making an honest, if low, income there was rarely the opportunity to buy equipment new. I learned to pull bearings and races, to use a torch to heat up rust welded bolts so they wouldn’t break. I learned to cut metal, grind it just so, and weld together new structures out of old steel.

Then, when I got back on the tractor to do some mowing or tilling my sense of pride and accomplishment swelled. I did that. I figured it out. I coaxed this much needed machine into a few more years of service.

My journey to healing from my past choices, decisions and expressions has been stubbornly similar. I had to do it my way, and I had to do it for me. Whether I fought for months or years was largely irrelevant, because I had to be the cultivator of my own inner change. To say that I did it alone would be a farce, however. I can say I have met gifted healers, amazing hypnotists at the top of their game, and learned an amazing form of self-hypnosis that meets me where I am every single day.

I know when a tooth on my drive gear switches from anxiety to trust. I feel when the gear expressing anger finds its joy. Because I know and feel, I can choose differently. My worldview has the flexibility and malleability to change with the surprising magic of synchronicity, radical acceptance, and a foundational belief that not only can I change. . . but I am also worth it.



about author


A dad, a kid, a kelpie and two cat brothers rubbertramping around the country doing our best to live authentic lives while awakening to our birthright. 

Support My Work

Exploring inner space with all of its highs and lows and inbetweens while growing into a world we both choose and desire to create together.