Let’s look at “driving in a car” as a metaphor for how individuals live their lives.
It’s important to be an effective and careful driver. When you are driving, you must have your hands securely on the steering wheel and you are aware of the road ahead, the terrain and the weather and you are also paying attention to all of the signs and signals along the way.
In life, if you are also in the driver’s seat, you're aware of yourself (your emotions, internal stressors, coping skills and your behavior), your environment (everything outside of yourself), and you're interested and positively connected to the important people in your life (Key Elements and Steps of the Relationship Protocol).
Think about it: are you in the driver’s seat of your life,? Are you aware of yourself, your surroundings, and the people you come in contact with on a regular basis?
You may be stuck in the passenger seat, which means that even though you are sitting up front in the car, you are not taking the responsibility for driving. You may grab the wheel once in a while or offer helpful information to the driver, but you are definitely more of a passenger in the car and, therefore, in your own life. It’s a good start, but not a complete transformation.
Becoming an effective communicator and increasing your self-awareness will help you to take more responsibility for yourself and enable you to move into the driver’s seat.
It’s also reasonable to be the passenger in some relationships and let someone else take charge sometimes or most times, because you trust them, or because they are an authority figure, your boss, etc., as long as you are not compromising your feelings or your self-esteem. Do you think you are in the passenger seat most of the time? If so, can you make some small changes to begin adjusting your behavior?
Next, are spending time the backseat? If so you’re probably peering over the front seat and watching what’s going on around you, but for the most part, you're not taking any responsibility for driving.
You are essentially having little impact on your own life and its direction. Maybe you’re the type of a backseat driver, who points things out to the driver or criticizes him/her, but you never take a risk to step up and talk about what you need in a thoughtful way. Maybe it’s easier to coast and not make waves, or maybe your discomfort level is high and communicating doesn’t come easily to you.
If you are a backseat driver, be curious about what holds you back from stepping up and moving at least into the front passenger seat. So, are you in the backseat?
Please, not the trunk! This is the person who has little awareness of themselves and/or their surroundings. Someone who is in the trunk is feeling or behaving as if they’re lost and not in control of their life. This could also include individuals suffering from depression, or active addiction. When you're in the trunk, you are not in control or your own life, you have intentionally or unintentionally relinquished control. There is no interest or regard for your needs, or desires because you have no positive impact on your own journey.
If this is the role you play in your life, please seek some guidance as to how to have a healthier functioning. You can learn to become more positively involved in your own life. Don’t settle for the trunk. It's not a healthy place to be for anyone. Are you in the trunk?
At various times in our lives and in different relationships, we take on different roles. It's reasonable to be a passenger sometimes and it’s okay to rest in the backseat for a short time letting others take the wheel.
But... those roles must be conscious decisions that you make, whether it be to coast, or relinquish responsibility for a period of time.
It all starts with self-awareness and the roles you play. If there's no awareness, the role you play in your own life cannot change.
So where are you in the car?
Are you comfortable in that position?
If not, use the Relationship Protocol model to help you achieve your new goals and desires. If you need extra support, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.
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