One of my favorite reminders to myself comes from Iyanla Vanzant, it is a simple quote which says, “stay in your own car”. Which basically is a nice way of saying, mind your own business. For me, it is a reminder that the only person I am ultimately responsible for and have complete control over is myself.
For example, a loved one, acquaintance, or friend comes to you with a problem, maybe it is a dead-end job, or a dysfunctional relationship. It is a true principle in my experience that frequently we can see other’s stuff before they can and vice versa. Have you ever left a job or a relationship only to have your friends say “about time” “we have been waiting for you to figure that out”. They had seen it wasn’t a good fit for you months or years before you had and never bothered to tell you. OR they did tell you, they got out of their car and into yours and tried to show you exactly why you were making the wrong decisions. And what did you do? You probably just stopped talking to them about that particular problem. However, I am also a big believer we can only see what we are ready to deal with and process. So even though I may see that someone is in the wrong job–if they aren’t ready to deal with the ramifications and soul searching necessary to find a new job then they won’t make a move.
Basically as hard as it is, it is not our job to fix people. It is our job to be present, hold the space and help them reach their maximum potential, in their time. Let me repeat that, help them reach THEIR potential not what we think their potential is not what we wish their potential to be but THEIR potential. As I said earlier this week, we are all a work in progress. We are all trying to be the best we can be, and sometimes we take wrong turns, get detoured and just down right stuck. But we need those around us, our precious Pooh’s to patiently hold our hands and help us through the times when life seems bleak. We need people who are willing to stay in their car and keep us company on the journey.
So often we think we know best, truth be told, we might be able to see ‘what’s best’ for someone before they can. But what we can’t see is their journey, their path, their potential. We can’t see what lessons they need to learn and why. We can’t see what lessons their current ‘challenges’ might be offering for the future. Even if their car is destined for a crash, it is our job to support them before the crash, during the crash and after the crash, from our car. So often we spend all of our time trying to ‘rescue’ other people and drive their cars, we forget to drive our own.
In my opinion in order to live happier and work happier, we have to learn how to let people be where they are, on their own path, in their own car. We need to accept they are doing the best they can with what they have. Not that they won’t learn and grow eventually, but for now they are where they need to be. Our role is to help them reach their potential by supporting their journey and respecting THEIR journey which is not necessarily ours.
So the next time you catch yourself getting out of your car and trying to drive someone else’s ask yourself–am I REALLY helping them on THEIR journey? And most importantly, What am I missing/ trying to avoid on my journey by not driving my own car?