It’s really tempting to talk about other people… To insist that we know them and the motives behind their actions and behavior; to make assumptions about what they’re feeling and why they do the things they do and say the things they say.
Oh boy, don’t we love ourselves a good over-analyzing session with friends gossiping about people we think we know everything about! Asking everyone’s opinion on what we think they’re thinking and don’t we agree with them that they need to do things differently and if they would just do some work on themselves or go to therapy or stop trying to fill their empty holes with alcohol or food or drugs or trying to get attention from others, wouldn’t they be better people?
So this is what I tell people who are focusing all of their attention on other people and what they’re doing:
Stay in your own lane.
Keep your eyes on the road in front of you. Stop swerving into other people’s lanes trying to get their attention and show them how to drive better with your mad navigation skills.
See that lane you’re driving in? Keep your focus on that one so you don’t veer off the road or go so slow that you fail to hit up all the cool locations you want to see in the timeframe you want to see them.
Don’t spend so much time obsessing over the speed and way in which the other cars around you are driving (especially if they’re carrying people you used to carpool with)! They are doing what feels most comfortable for them.
Some of them are nervous drivers because they’ve had some bad experiences on the road before or been in a traumatic accident so they need to go a little slower to feel safe.
Some of them drive too fast, cutting in and out of other people’s lanes like erratic maniacs because they have a desperate need to get to where they’re going fast. They suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and for them, living on the edge and barreling through life is an exciting distraction from slowing down and taking stock of what’s in front of them that they don’t care to see.
Other people have no idea where they’re going and no pre-planned destination. They meander all over the road, checking out every sign trying to decide if that’s an exit where they might want to get off and explore for awhile. Which really drives us Type A drivers out of our minds because dammit if those drivers had any sense of purpose or responsibility whatsoever they’d get a lot further on their trip and they wouldn’t be slowing the rest of us down!
Then there’s the jerk riding your ass and hand signaling you, often with one of his prominent fingers to go at a different speed or move out of their way. Remember, that’s about them, not you. They have a choice to go around you without all that fuss but these drivers have a desperate need to make themselves seen and heard.
Here’s the point… stop focusing on them at all. Crank up the tunes on your radio, settle into your own vehicle and keep your focus right there. Because if you don’t you might miss seeing the maintenance light go on in your own car telling you it needs attention and has to be serviced.
The distraction of turning our eyes towards someone else on the road to give a running commentary of their driving might be the very thing that makes us lose focus and crash into the car in front of us, which will injure not just us but other people we didn’t intend to hurt.
When we’re so busy looking around us and critiquing everyone else’s driving, we take the focus off our own.
Where do we need to slow down?
Where should we be speeding up?
Should we have chosen that last exit to explore or did we miss an opportunity because our eyes were focused elsewhere?
Would someone else say our own driving sucks and we’re reckless and irresponsible on the road? If so, we need to look at that while sitting in our own car.
Is it true? Can we recall a time when we’ve unintentionally driven recklessly?
Can we remember a time we ourselves had no plan… no GPS, no direct route to where we were headed?
Can we remember a time we had gotten lost? If so, can we have compassion for the driver in the other lane who is now driving in circles trying to find his way?
It’s so important to stay in our own lane in life. We have no right forcing ourselves into others or assuming our way is the only way. We’re all learning how to be better as we travel down these roads of life.
The roads towards self-acceptance, towards self-love, towards fulfilling relationships, towards careers we love, towards deeper connections with people, towards vulnerability, towards forgiveness, towards redemption, towards courage, towards fearlessness and hope and our life purpose.
So let’s allow people to live their lives their way and at their pace. Make no judgments or assumptions about them. It’s part of their journey. And the journey is far more important and always way more revealing than the final destination.