Taking Ownership: Are You Wasting Your Efforts Driving Someone Else’s Car?

Back-Seat driving: stress or saviour…

Back-Seat Driving…

My husband hates driving, but he loves back-seat driving. He shares his opinions freely even though he tells me they aren’t personal.

Occasionally I tease and ask why he’s doing it,

Because it makes us safer, he replies.

Not, because ‘it’s fun’, or because he’s ‘just passing the time’, but because, in his mind, there is something about it that he thinks is helpful.

But what if it makes us less safe? I wonder. What if your panic causes me to brake sharply, or make a sudden wrong move?
And, apart from the safety, why get riled up about something that isn’t on your plate? (He knows he is welcome to drive and always refuses-it genuinely isn’t about my driving.)

Is Safety Logical?

It’s normal, of course, to look at things around us and comment-hubby has that nailed as well-he loves to talk politics, or football, over a beer, or at his monthly coffee with the neighbours (his men’s group I call it, jokingly)-that’s ‘entertainment’, a release, a topic to connect over where the connection is more important than the content of the conversation, a way to make sense of, and process or accept the rights and wrongs of circumstances.

We put the world to rights, he grins on his return.

And his car experience doesn’t carry over to cycling-by any statistic a much, much more dangerous mode of transport.

All of which makes me curious about the occasional blip in his-or anyone’s-ability to recognise the difference between concerns that can be left at the door of the coffee shop, and those that need to be carried around, like old familiars.

The ‘Right’ Side of Stressful…

There’s a point at which something moves in our mind from imaginary meander to responsibility for the metaphorical ‘someone else’s driving’; when empathy becomes ownership, and we (innocently) put something extra on our mental ‘to-worry-about’ list.

I think we’re all pretty attuned to this-at least when we’re asked to notice-but it can be harder for some of us to disentangle which worries seem to be important as a way of protecting or motivating something, and which ones are merely diversionary-where we think vigilance is our friend, as opposed to times when we really do need to be watchful for danger.

I understand why, I get that it’s a trick of the mind, a misunderstanding about reality-perhaps some biological programming or an overly-sensitive evolutionary mechanism; I understand why it occurs.

What’s more interesting to notice, I think, is where I’m still tricking myself, like hubby, into believing there’s a good reason to keep guard. And, challenge myself about whether those reasons are as good as I think they are.

On the other side of this it seems to me, there’s a much richer life to be led deciding my own journeys and driving my own car.

With love,


Originally published at https://cathypresland.com on October 22, 2020.

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