in the driver’s seat


Photo by Brennan Tolman


I don’t know if this is part of the driving test, but witnessing it makes it seem worth asking.

What would you do if you were driving along in the left lane, and a car (let’s call him “Trouble”) came speeding up behind you?

Would you:

  1. A) Stay in your lane, slow to a crawl and pump your brakes so Trouble is forced to either pass you or hit you.
  2. B) Quickly move to the right and let Trouble pass.

If you chose A:

You may feel the need to prove yourself. Consequently, you may experience ongoing challenges because you are easily affected emotionally and personally by the actions of others. It can be difficult to let things go, even when you know better. You may be easily taken off course, without realizing how or why you are where you find yourself.  Although others may enjoy your free and passionate nature, you may experience more pain than pleasure as a result.

If you chose B:

You may be considered focused but also flexible. You may be able to realize your goals while also recognizing potential obstacles along the way. With that, you may be less reactive and fearful when faced with negativity and instead are able to distinguish between your problems and the problems of others. Although it may be difficult for others to affect you, you are able to maintain a warm and kind demeanor while also setting limits with others.

In order to change lanes and let Trouble pass, we must imagine that Trouble’s behavior has nothing to do with us. It could be that his loved one is dying across town. In this case, there is no question. We would gladly move out of his way. But more than that, we might even wish him well. After all, how differently would we behave under the same circumstance? So, not only would you move, but you would move with compassion and love.

The same is true in encounters with others off the road. In order to not take the bad behavior of another personally, I have to know that his behavior is a consequence of what he is going through and not a reflection of me or even what he thinks or feels about me. I have to know that in judging him, I am wrong even if I am right.

In witnessing these cars, I saw that although Trouble was the aggressor, the other engaged him and perpetuated the dance. Trouble threatened to hit the other driver numerous times, but he refused to move. It seemed that at that moment he felt it more important to show his strength then to give up his position, no matter how risky.

Interestingly, when it was finally over, I noticed others almost straining to get a good look at the driver Trouble left behind.  Instead of offering him support, they seemed to look at him angrily, as though blaming him. In the end, he was perceived as the problem.

As unfair as it may be, in life this dynamic exists as well. When we don’t know how to separate ourselves from the bad behavior of others, we can become sucked into a dance that results in unpredictable and even dangerous behavior justified by the bad behavior of another. As a result, we can experience the very pain we struggled to avoid.

The point is, proper lane usage is as critical in life as it is on the road. Drive on the right and pass on the left. When Trouble finds you, move with compassion and love, and enjoy the ride.

Leave a Reply

Close Menu

Psychological coaching is grounded in the art and science of psychology and is in many ways very similar to traditional psychotherapy.  They both utilize knowledge of human behavior, motivation, behavioral change, and interactive techniques in order to help a client move from where they are to an improved state of being. The differences between psychological coaching and traditional psychotherapy are related to their goals, focus, and perspective. Traditional psychotherapy seeks to diagnose and treat emotional and behavioral conditions, with the therapist serving as "expert" in support of the client. Unfortunately, many have considered the pursuit of traditional psychotherapy to be stigmatizing, in part because of this perspective of the client being "broken" and in need of repair.  Psychological  coaching offers a different point of view.  The coaching psychologist is more likely focused on developing a collaborative relationship, with the client in the "driver seat", with the perspective that the client is creative, whole, and resourceful.  The clients' capacity for wellness and healing is assumed, encouraging them to move more quickly and directly through obstacles to their happiness, success, and life satisfaction.  

As a Coaching Psychologist, my goal is to support you in creating awareness so that you can access your own skills and inner resources in order to manage the challenges you face now and into the future.  While our work together may touch on past traumas and psychiatric concerns, they will be addressed from the perspective of your strengths, rather than with a focus on ill-ness or disability.  In our larger community, it is not unusual for individuals to experience mild to moderate mental health issues, making psychological coaching an accessible and viable option.  If, in the course of our work together, either you or I have reason to believe that your mental or emotional health concerns are better addressed by another service provider, a referral will be made.  

As a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, I have 20 years of ongoing training and experience providing, consulting and supervising others in the provision of psychological services.  However,  as of now, the life coaching field is unregulated, allowing anyone to be a life coach - even those without training in the behavioral sciences.  As well, the coaching field is considered to lack a solid base in research, creating disagreement on educational and training standards. The International Coach Federation (ICF) is working to change this.  In order to ensure that your coach is not counseling others beyond their expertise, it is suggested that when considering a life coach, individuals  should seek coaches who are trained or ICF certified.  Along with my license as a Clinical Psychologist, I am currently enrolled in MentorCoach® L.L.C., one of the oldest ICF accredited coach training programs, and one that will enable me to be an ICF certified coach.