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:

  1. 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?
  1. 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?
  1. 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.


4 thoughts on “Note to your backseat driver: “I’ll handle the driving, thank you!””

  1. Grow old and wise …. everything mellows with age just like a lovely wine I am told :o)

    I need to plan my trip before I take it and I need to leave on time with time to spare so that I can deal with unexpected challenges.

    Life is interesting … :o)

  2. Sheila Winter Wallace

    It seems that 98% of the internal dialogue that we heed, as if listening to an external reference, is not really ours. So, when it shows up, it is useful to stop; take a breath, inhaling and exhaling slowly and on purpose; and then ask ourselves, ‘Is this mine’?

    Trust the first answer you get. If it is not yours, you’ll experience a ‘lighter, easier’ feeling inside your body, where you live. Return that tiresome and overplayed dialogue to its sender, with consciousness attached. Truth is, whose voice it is carries no relevance. The only thing that is relevant is that the voice that is offering the schlock is not yours. If that is the case, then what is so compelling about giving that voice and it’s schlock valuable real estate in your mind… especially when none of it carries joy and meaning for you AND none of it is yours? If it really is yours, your experience in your body will feel ‘heavier’. If it really is yours, then own it; take a breath, inhaling and exhaling; and let it all go, never to picked up, again.

    Truly, check it out! 98% of the schlock (meaning cheap with no value) we deal upon ourselves is the result of hearing the same old recording again and again and again… and, LOL, we did not have a hand in composing the music, writing the lyrics, and creating/producing the original disc. Still our hearing of it, again and again – like a long play, 33 RPM, vinyl record on repeat, ad nauseam – has served to overwhelm the deep, internal truth of our inherent and intuitive knowing that we really are way more than our bodies. When we choose to give it all up; when we consciously choose to redirect our attention away from the familiar… our history, habits and habituation… and toward the intuitive force of whom we are becoming, our energy is redirected to honouring each of us as the driver, no longer captive to the voice in the back seat… ’cause the voice in the back seat is no longer there.

    Who knew? Apparently we think 65,000 thoughts daily. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most of them are sonically repeating – again and again – like those ancient and familiar long play records. Think about it, while the back seat driver behaves like he/she has the keys to your car, the real truth is that he/she doesn’t. So, STOP giving the back seat, wanna-be driver space in your vehicle. Park your car, get out, vote with your feet, walk away and leave the back seat driver behind. Now THAT, in my estimation, is a huge act of grace. Wanna-be’s can’t play without your attention to them. Energy always flows where attention goes! 🙂

    1. Dominique Dennery

      A big thank you for bringing your wealth of NLP and Wel-systems knowledge to this conversation Sheila. You are a gift!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top