There are a few names coaches give to this human phenomenon: the gremlins, the internal saboteurs, negative chatter. I affectionately call it the backseat driver.
Have you experienced the frustration of a backseat driver? They may be well meaning, but….
- “I think you should turn left here. Why didn’t you turn left?”
- “You’re driving too slow. Can we get a move on?”
- “You’re driving too fast!”
The annoying voice that doesn’t have the full picture and yet still feels compelled to tell you to speed by your exit, or choose the wrong road, because they just think they know better. The backseat driver is really there to fill you with self-doubt, thereby second guessing your own decisions.
How do you know it’s the backseat driver talking?
Often, the backseat driver uses words or ideas like “but”, “try”, “don’t”, “not possible”, “no support”, “difficult”.
- I want to… but I lack confidence you know.
- I have tried to approach these organizations.
- At my last interview, I was asked to provide a reference from my previous employer, and it won’t be a good one, but I don’t have a choice.
- I have many ideas, but when I speak to my friends and family, they are not supportive.
How can we possibly drive forward, when all we see is the obstacle course?
How to turn down the volume on the mayhem in the backseat
There are several avenues you can use to get back in the driver’s seat at any given moment. Here are 3:
- Stop the car! Taking a deep breath enables you to take a much needed step back. Take note of the negative chatter and ask where is it coming from. Is the internal noise laced with fear, hesitation, anxiety… or any other emotions that point to the backseat driver’s presence?
- Have a conversation with it. There are times when you just have to sit down with that voice and ask its intention: Are you here to protect me, and should I be cautious? Are there other considerations I’m not taking into account? Or are you here to test my resolve?
- Take steps forward anyway. At times an effective way to turn down the volume is to simply push through it with one step, then another. It’s not surprising that the backseat driver starts quieting down when you ignore it.
There may be some real impacts to consider before moving forward. And once this is done, the voice of protection may relax and let the voice of growth and evolution take over the driving.
The backseat driver may simply be an ingrained habit. Habits, thankfully, can change. Perhaps it’s now time to recognize that driver for what it really is. Stop the car and let the unwanted passenger out.
What are your strategies for stopping the backseat driver in your life? I look forward to reading your comments.