a rear-view look at backseat-living

Yeah, I know! I know. Things that involve cars and driving seem to be stuck in my head for the last few weeks, if not months. It really is time to get off that topic and find something else to write about, isn’t it?

A while back I wrote something about friendship and how it comes to be. Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what kind of person / friend I am. So, I went off on another introspective journey.

As a young girl I had an enormous respect for other people. The kind of respect one has for dangerous animals, that is. I lived more than half my life keeping my thoughts to myself, which made me a good listener and observer by default, I think. The unfortunate side effect was that I grew up into a very bad communicator with some other ” social defects”.

At some point in time, after I entered my 20’s and have been working for a few years, things started to change. I had to fight to survive, or disappear in “you-don’t-matter-land”.  It became important for me to share my thoughts, my ideas, my observations and perceptions.  At least, that is what my instincts told me at the time. It was not easy for me to step out of my comfort zone, and woman up. It was a decision I had to make, and I struggled to make it. Yes, it was a conscious decision; I can’t hide from that, or blame it on somebody else.

How amazingly easy it was to lose perspective of who I am once I started talking. I received a lot of praise and compliments for the things that finally left my mouth – badly communicated as it were. Frankly, all that positive feedback went to my head. I was slowly, but surely, climbing the steps to the top of the slide called “everybody-should-be-like-me”. I became very self-important. I probably shared equal time between my high horse and that slide! Down the slide I would go, passing judgement on, spouting criticism and unasked-for advice to, everybody around me – friends and family included.

All of a sudden I knew how my friends and family should live their lives. It became a reflex for me to give advice and voice opinions whenever they told me something. Forget that they just needed someone to listen to them. Forget that they only needed the comfort brought on by sharing their feelings , of being themselves, and knowing that somebody cares and support them. I knew better!

A couple of years or so ago I had experiences that set off other introspective journeys, very much like the ones I posted about on my first blog, which helped me get off my high horse. That horse is around somewhere, and I suspect I have a toe caught in one of the stirrups still. It seems I weren’t able to completely get off the slide either.

When I hinted in an earlier post how frustrating it can be to have backseat drivers, I hardly thought of myself as being one. It didn’t really hit home until I was talking to a friend the other day.  She just needed to vent, like she did on previous occasions, and I heard myself (again!) starting to spout a lot of dos and don’ts at her. What a shock to realise, and acknowledge to myself, that I was backseat-drliving someone else’s life!



15 thoughts on “a rear-view look at backseat-living

  1. Ah! This post hit me on the head like a 10-ton hammer (thankfully imaginary)!
    While I’m usually very good about never giving advice, unless asked specifically and by someone I know intimately, all that good sense flies out the window when it comes to my family, especially Mom! With her I’m unforgiving, judgmental and as you so brilliantly put it…the worst back-seat driver ever!! Now, here’s the thing…I’ve been aware of this failing, ever since I was old enough to know what it meant…and though I think I’m better, I slip back ever so often…I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to stop for good, and that scares the hell out of me.

    • Maybe it is worse with our families because we know they won’t run away – they have to deal with us 😉 The sad thing is that we end up hurting them 😦

      Like you, I also find myself slipping, and it takes some time for me to realise it, unless someone calls me on it. I’m having a heck of a time trying to break my bad habit.

      Re the picture – I was trying to be a little creative, blending the image from the friendship post with this one 🙂

  2. It’s not easy for most of us to be honest with ourselves, but I think reflecting upon these things from time to time is very beneficial. We are not perfect, but it is easy for us to forget this from time to time. We like to think we are always right.

    Your realization of this and your admittance certainly indicates your growth and maturity, something we all need in our lives. When asked for advise I usually tell the person involved that they have to make their own decisions and find out what’s right for them.

  3. nothing wrong with a little well-placed advice. I give it all the time but rarely without first having been asked for my advice or my opinion….then BAM – it’s out there – you asked for it, you got it. Doesn’t mean anyone has to do what YOU would do in their situation. The real trick is to know when you are being asked to advise and when you are merely needed as a sounding board. I admire your honesty – sometimes it can come as quite a shock to the system to realize that it is WE who are on our ‘high-horse’. xo

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