Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Move Over!

One of the therapists I supervise has come up with a phrase that I've stolen and use on the regular-- stay in your own lane.  She tells me that she has the tendency to "get out of her lane" when it comes to work with clients in therapy, but what about those of us who tend to get out of our lane in everyday life?  And what do you do when someone continually swerves over into your lane? 

Staying in my lane means I mind my own business.  This is really hard.  Sometimes just by silently judging someone else, I have just exited my lane and veered into the other person's.  When I begin analyzing, critiquing, and comparing someone else's behavior to my own, this can lead to some self toxicity.  When I stay in my own lane, I try to keep my mind off what you are doing-- unless, of course, you are drifting into my lane.  Then I will need to kindly tell you to return to your own lane.

Sometimes I drift out of my lane by "helping" someone.  You know that subtle kind of controlling help that some of us might sometimes offer?  I find myself doing that with my children or maybe a supervisee.  It's generally someone who I fear is going to really flub up and then I'll be left cleaning the mess.  Staying in my own lane means remaining focused on me and my responsibilities.  I may offer friendly advice or a suggestion.  If that is ignored and a mess ensues... oops, that's in your lane.  Guess you'll have to clean that up.

For me, I tend to get out of my lane when I worry what someone else is thinking about me.  This one is a real struggle for me.  If you are over in your lane thinking something nasty and harsh about me, it's really none of my business.  Who looks crazier-- the person silently judging me or me when I'm swerving all over the road trying to figure out what the person in the other lane is thinking about me?  Yeah, I won't answer that one.

Okay, and my number one lane buster-- trying to do God's job for him.  Oh, yes, my friend, I do it.  I do this when I complain about how an uncontrollable situation turned out.  I am essentially asking God, "Was that the best you could come up with?"  Just the other day I was complaining to my Mom about how a particular situation ended up.  I embarked on a passion-filled speech, listing the injustices that were being done, whining about the discomfort I'm being subjected to, and on and on and on.  God later brought to my mind a time when my own precious daughter sat at the kitchen table on her birthday.  I had just spent the day rearranging my entire schedule so I could pick up her special order birthday cake, run around town finding exactly what she wanted, wrap gifts, and plan the evening's dinner.  Our family finally sat down for birthday cake later that evening and as my exhausted hand lifted the bite of cake to my mouth, my daughter asked, "Is this all I get?"  God reminded me that this is exactly what I look like to Him when I am complaining about the one thing I didn't get, forgetting all the tremendous behind-the-scenes work He does for me daily just to keep me comfortable.  So sorry, God, gonna try to do better about staying in my lane on this one!

Okay, and if you swerve over into my lane, I'll ask you nicely the first time to get back where you belong.  Should you continue to violate my lane, don't be angry with me when the conversation we're having has to change.  At first, the conversation was, "Could you get back in your lane please?  Thanks."  Repeated offenses changes the conversation to this, "I've asked that you please stay in your lane.  It's really uncomfortable and dangerous for me to take care of my responsibilities over here with you in the way.  I'm going to need you to get back into your lane, and if you can't do that, I'll have to call the police next time.  Thanks!"  I then drive away and leave that person alone in his or her lane to take responsibility for whatever feelings that might have aroused in them.  That's just courteous, right? 

Photo above found at:


  1. Could you be so kind and share a link to other sources dedicated to this subject if you know some.

  2. I have personally found Codepedent No More, The Codependent's Guide to the Twelve Steps, and Boundaries to be the three most helpful books on this particular subject. Hope this helps!