So, let's say the 'car' (which is you or me) is moving forward in 'Drive.' That means we are making decisions and taking action to attain what we desire. But, what happens when the car reaches something in the 'road' that is not desired, but rather feared?
This is where the gear marked 'reverse' comes in. You see, just as we can be drawn to things we desire, we are also repulsed by what is perceived as dangerous or 'bad.' Our natural inclination is to flee what is dangerous. We avoid the things that hurt us.
This is at the core of human anxiety: it is the preparation to flee. Anxiety is a tool, and a necessary one. So long as we are confronting dangers, we need to have some degree of anxiety so that we make the right decision and avoid harm. Our anxiety forces us to back away from what is in front of us until an alternative route can be chosen.
To say, in the modern parlance, that we can live 'without anxiety' means that we should live without excessive worrying, which is a good idea. But, this does not mean our goal should be to live without any kind of fear or concern. That is foolishness. Fear is a gift. Some things are worth fearing, like crossing the freeway on foot at rush hour or lighting a cigarette while holding an open can of jet fuel.
Here is a great book on the topic of fear:
What we must remember about this reverse gear is that the car is really designed to move forward. We are oriented towards desire, and so the reverse of avoidance is always supposed to be a temporary maneuver. No real change is necessary to the person's general orientation in order to reverse away from something, because the assumption is that very soon the car will be back in forward again and moving towards desire.
So, what reverse is really is determined by how the mind defines its desires. What we avoid is based on what we desire.
This means that a person who is dominated by certain behaviors is not always running in reverse, but that their avoidant behaviors are what they really desire. We'll get into this later.
What this also means is that avoidance patterns are easier to change than desires, because we spend less time doing these patterns and so they are less 'entrenched.' However, avoidance based on faulty desires requires that the desires be repaired first.
When we get into addiction, this will all become clearer. However, we have two more gears to review before this all comes together.