I have been teaching people to drive for the last 7 years and in that time, I have come to notice certain parallels that exist between aspects of the way we drive (or situations that arise whilst we are driving) and issues in our life.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t set out to look for these when I’m teaching my pupils to drive, my main focus being on the roads. But every so often I am fascinated when I see certain driving behaviour patterns that repeat with a particular individual yet seemingly are quite resistant to change. This suggested to me that there might be an unconscious processgoing on, whereby aspects or issues within the driver’s own life or background are playing a part in how the driver behaves on the road. Therefore, conversely, if we become more aware or conscious of these issues then we are more likely to make progress on the road and in learning to be a safe driver.
Yet if we follow this argument through it could infer that by changing certain aspects of the way we drive, it could have a knock on effect in other areas of our life. In this blog I aim to give a variety of situations I have encountered with my pupils on the road (using fictitious names for confidentiality reasons) in order to illustrate the ‘parallels’ I am talking about, including some relating to me!
Let me explain my interest. Up until the year 2000 I worked in the NHS in the area of mental health and psychotherapy, with no conscious plan at that time to leave or change course. Yet a sequence of events happened in my life that forced my hand and after taking a long career break I made the decision not to return. A little while later I retrained as a driving instructor without knowing exactly why; only that I enjoyed driving and liked helping others. Whenever I’ve mentioned to people my previous profession I have usually got the same reaction: something along the lines of “That’s so different! What made you do this?” to which I had some difficulty responding.
Yet on closer inspection there are some parallels between these two seemingly contrasting professions (for me anyway!). For example, I used to help patients/clients become more aware of their thought or behaviour patterns which might be blocking or hindering them in some way and then try to teach some new skills so as to help them make more progress along their particular road in life.
When we are driving on the roads, we encounter so many different situations involving other road users and have to often make very quick decisions about how we are going to deal with them safely (or not!). There are many potential situations for conflict with other vehicles; there are a multitude of hazards, such as obstructions in our path, which might call on us to be patient or considerate. Yet how we decide to behave can either create conflict and potential danger or it can prevent or resolve conflict.
These are situations most of us encounter in other areas of our daily lives. There are however more opportunities in our personal of working lives to use avoidance as a strategy; on the roads this is rarely an option! Hence, for those of us who are open to it, driving can provide a rich opportunity for growth.